Melbourne-based Consolidated Gems (OTCBB: CGEM) announced that it would acquire VR startup Byondata for an undisclosed amount. It’s a quick and apparently successful exit for a young Israeli startup out of the tech-heavy city of Herzliya.
While giants like Samsung, Oculus, HTC and Sony are producing hardware, there haven’t been a lot of companies actually producing content to make those devices useful. Byondata is hoping to fill that industry gap with publishing-facilitating software that includes real-time updates for content campaigns on TV, virtual tours and for sports. It supports 2D, 3D and 360-degree content, targeting marketing companies as their primary customers for companies in several different industries. Another Israeli startup, WakingApp, scored $4.3 million in investments in October to push their own VR content creation platform. The company boasts that their media can work on all the major VR headsets.
They tout some enterprise customers in Israel as well as some global brands. They joined Coca-Cola’s post-accelerator program the Bridge last month and presented their tech at TechCrunch Disrupt 2015.
From gems to VR?
Consolidated Gems’ decision to buy a budding VR content firm opens up questions about what their interest is in a company that is so far afield from their normal offerings. On a basic level, they may be interested in new possibilities for marketing their diamonds and other products that can be done with the 360° and 3D video. Looking to the near future, VR and Augmented Reality are going to change the way that consumers look for products, revolutionizing the entire buying experience.
The acquisition would represent a serious pivot for Consolidated Gems and the Gutnick family if they indeed are looking to scale Byondata’s business and march further in the VR vertical. It would be the Gutnick family’s first significant investment in startups anywhere in the world.
Very little is known about the company beyond that is publicly traded and its president and CEO, Mordechai Gutnick, is a prominent Melbourne rabbi. The Gutnicks are major philanthropists and influential members of the Australian Jewish community. Gutnick, like his father before him, is also the former chief rabbi of the Australian armed forces. His brother Joseph Gutnick is Consolidated Gems’ former president and also the CEO of Top End Minerals, president and CEO of mining company Legend International Holdings and managing director of Quantum Resources Ltd. An inquiry by Geektime has not been answered at the time of publication.
On a higher level, this purchase could signify the movement that Australia is making away from many of their more traditional industries like minerals and mining and towards the hi-tech industry, as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnball outlined earlier Tuesday when he announced a new tax break scheme and appointments to the country’s Innovation and Science Australia board. With the global pricing downturn in many of their formerly profitable industries, the country has wisely set its sights on new high value sectors to create jobs and maintain their quality of life.
For the Gutnick family, purchasing the two-year-old toddler of a startup Byondata could be their attempt to get into the tech sector and diversify their holdings. If they are able to steer it correctly, they may yet succeed in helping to lead marketing and content innovation in the Melbourne scene.
Byondata was founded in 2014 by CEO Noam Levavi and CTO Eran Galil. They are located in Herzliya, Israel. Levavi brings nearly 20 years of tech experience with him, including a stint as CEO at digital signage company YCD and being named one of his country’s most influential young professionals by Forbes Israel in 2008. Galil is a veteran of the IDF’s prestigious 8200 technology unit.
Gabriel Avner contributed reporting.