In a deal worth up to 200 million dollars, Facebook recently acquired Israeli technology start-up Onavo. Onavo’s award-winning compression apps save up to 80 percent in data usage, making internet on mobile phones much more affordable.
On Monday, Onavo announced on their blog, “Facebook has agreed to acquire our company. Three years ago, we started Onavo with the goal of helping today’s technology consumers and companies work more efficiently in a mobile world. Our service helps people save money through more efficient use of data, and also helps developers, large and small, design better experiences for people…Onavo’s Tel-Aviv office will remain open for business and will become Facebook’s new Israeli office.”
As a world leader in information technology, Google, Microsoft, and Intel operate offices in Israel. As part of its deal with Facebook, Onavo’s 30 employees will remain in Israel, which is significant since previous Israeli start-ups were required to relocate to Facebook’s Silicon Valley offices. This requirement was a deal breaker in Facebook’s negotiations with Israeli start-up Waze, whose subsequent one billion dollar purchase by Google permitted it to continue operating from Israel.
According to NoCamels, “Onavo was founded by Guy Rosen (CEO) and Roi Tiger (CTO) and four of their friends who met in an elite intelligence unit in the Israeli Defense Force, named ‘8200.’” They told NoCamels that the idea came to them after returning from the Global Mobile Congress exhibition in Barcelona last year with an “outrageous’ phone bill.”
With this purchase, Facebook continues to expand its mobile market in addition to furthering its humanitarian efforts through a project called Internet.org, a collaboration with Ericsson, MediaTek, Nokia, Samsung and other information technology giants. Internet.org’s goal is to make the world wide web accessible to the remaining two-thirds of the human race currently without Internet access, mainly through cellular devices. “Since the internet is so fundamental, we believe everyone should have access and we’re investing a significant amount of our energy and resources into making this happen,” said Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
In a white paper, the organization identified the high cost of data delivery as one of the main obstacles in achieving Internet.org’s goal. The paper estimates that “the current global cost of delivering data is on the order of 100 times too expensive.” Using innovative methods to store memory on the internet, Onavo’s software allows users to download information to their phones using much less data, making web surfing from mobile devices in developing countries much more economically feasible. Onavo said of the Internet.org project, “We’re excited to join their team, and hope to play a critical role in reaching one of Internet.org’s most significant goals – using data more efficiently, so that more people around the world can connect and share.”
“Start-Up Nation” author Den Senor says the challenges Israel consistently overcomes are responsible for its miraculous success, which includes “more companies on the tech-oriented NASDAQ than any country outside the U.S., more than all of Europe, Japan, Korea, India, and China combined.” Senor notes that Israel has faced “adversity of all kinds, such as being under attack, small, isolated, and lacking resources,” which “have forced Israelis to be resourceful, to do more with less, to innovate, and to be global from day one.”
Author: Eitan Press, staff writer for United with Israel
Date: Oct 16, 2013