Carmel Ventures’ new Fund IV will similarly fund early stage tech companies, but this time, with the help of Asian investors like Baidu. Will Asia overtake the United States’ hold on Israeli venture capital?
Leading Israeli venture capital firm Carmel Ventures announced a new fund worth $194 million to support early stage tech companies. Though entrepreneurs will be excited by this influx of cash, the more interesting aspect of this announcement is that a number of prominent Asian investors, including Baidu, Qihoo360, and Ping-An, joined this funding round. While Israel has traditionally courted English-speaking investors and markets, that orientation may be dying: you may be surprised to learn that Asia will likely surpass the United States as Israel’s second highest exporting market after Europe this year.
A whole new world
According to a Times of Israel analysis of an Israeli Economy Ministry report, Asia became an increasingly attractive market for Israeli companies due to “lingering effects of the recession in the U.S. and Europe” in 2012, and since then, Israeli products and services for this region have grown. If the ministry’s predictions are accurate, it will be the first time ever that Israel sends more exports to Asia than to the United States.
Though more than 90% of Israeli tech companies have at least some sources of American funding, several big Asian investors have started acquiring and investing in Israeli companies. In February, Japanese titan Rakuten bought Israeli VoIP and messaging app Viber for $900 million. La Ka-Shing, the world’s richest Chinese businessman, has invested in more than 20 Israeli startups – such as Waze (bought by Google), Onavo (bought by Facebook), and most recently Tipa – through his venture capital firm Horizon Ventures, and in 2013, he donated $130 million to the Technion Israel Institute of Technology.
The new fund, simply called Carmel Venture Fund IV, will similarly invest in tech companies in high growth sectors like enterprise software, big data, cyber security, FinTech, digital media and consumer apps. The new fund by Carmel, which is part of the distinguished $2B private equity Viola Group, will be led by Shlomo Dovrat, Avi Zeevi, Ori Bendori, Ronen Nir, Daniel Cohen and Itzik Avidor and like previous funds, includes a significant equity investment from Carmel’s General Partners and affiliates.
Though the United States still supports Israeli defense more than any other country in the world, if the American economy keeps lagging behind, even the United States’ closest ally will be wooed away by the East.