Last week marked a significant moment in the Israeli tech ecosystem, with 3 companies announcing major achievements.
ironSource, a global leader in app monetization, announced an agreement to sell minority shares to British PE Firm CVC Capital Partners, at a valuation of over $1 billion.
And Outbrain and Taboola announced a merger to create a meaningful advertising competitor to Facebook and Google, which combined will reach nearly 2 billion people a month.
These two deals have a lot in common (aside from the fact that they were announced on the same day). In some way, they both speak to an evolution in the Israeli tech ecosystem:
1. Building truly global companies – the number of companies likely to reach a multibillion-dollar valuation over the coming year is increasing. Companies like Wix, Monday, Payoneer and JFrog are continuing to grow at a tremendous scale. These companies will be measured not by crossing the $1 billion valuation but by targeting the $1 billion revenues line. This is yet more evidence that there has been a shift in the vision of Israeli entrepreneurs, who are no longer aiming for exits but are determined to grow truly global, large-scale companies.
We believe that with this significant funding and merger, ironSource and Taboola/Outbrain will join this growing club.
2. Non-organic growth is becoming a more evident tool in the Israeli startup race for market leadership. In the past few years alone we have witnessed companies such as Walkme, Playtika, JFrog, Similarweb and Gett pursuing M&As, some of which have acquired up to 9 companies to date.
3. Sophistication in sourcing liquidity – In recent years, we’ve seen Israeli companies pursue diverse paths to liquidity – from distribution of dividends, to secondary deals and mergers with competitors. We believe that this trend will continue as entrepreneurs, investors and board members get creative in their attempts to play in the “big leagues” of multibillion-dollar companies.
4. Applying core competencies to emerging market needs – TechCrunch did a great job summarizing this point by writing: “Israel continues to churn out some significant big data startups that are using their technology specifically for marketing and advertising ends.” At Viola, we believe that Israel’s potential comes from the ability of its entrepreneurs to apply core competencies to emerging markets.
Building a category leader is a long journey. There are some pauses along the way that allow you to look back and appreciate the road already covered, but today the pause is short as these companies are already continuing to make progress towards that goal.
We strongly believe in the massive potential of both ironSource and the newly-formed Taboola, and we’re optimistic about the future of the Israeli tech ecosystem at large.