• 400% hiring boom at OurCrowd companies
  • Driscoll’s calls in SCiO to rate berries
  • SPACs become main event for Israeli startups
  • BioCatch gets US patent for user credential verification
  • NBA’s Russell Westbrook leads Varo Bank to $63M raise
  • mPrest joins Microsoft Azure for energy companies
  • Superpedestrian readies for New York rollout
  • Introductions
  • Jobs

400% hiring boom at OurCrowd companies

“Startups backed by influential Israel-based equity crowdfunding group OurCrowd are looking to hire in greater numbers, despite the lingering COVID-19 pandemic,” Red Herring reports on the release of the first Quarterly OurCrowd Jobs Index this week. “Pandemic or not, the Israeli tech industry continued its rapid growth in 2020,” says Gil Press in Forbes, noting that the number of open positions listed by OurCrowd’s portfolio companies rose from 350 in June 2020 to 912 in December 2020. “Startups surveyed by OurCrowd predict that job growth would continue through 2021,” he adds. The Index shows the number of job openings in Israel rose by 400% during the same period, advertised by 100 of OurCrowd’s portfolio companies and funds. “Despite the lingering pandemic and fears that the economy would take a long time to recover, many of the startups backed by OurCrowd are already emerging strongly from the downturn,” Laly David, OurCrowd’s Business Development Partner tells Crowdfund Insider, while The Times of Israel notes that most CEOs surveyed expect to maintain a mix of in-person and remote working. “Only 14% of OurCrowd companies are expecting to return to the office full-time,” reports Calcalist’s CTech. To read the full OurCrowd Jobs Index Q4 2020, click here.

Driscoll’s calls in SCiO to rate berries

US fresh berry market leader Driscoll’s is partnering with OurCrowd portfolio company Consumer Physics to use its SCiO technology to innovate quality measurement of its produce. Driscoll’s will rely exclusively on the SCiO Cup device for Brix (sugar content) measurements for some 2 million quality inspections it conducts every year in North America. The Near Infrared technology and breakthrough design offered through the SCiO Cup will allow Driscoll’s to measure the Brix of its berries more effectively. “We are constantly looking for ways to improve the flavor of our berries,” Brie Reiter Smith, Driscoll’s Director of Quality Systems Design and Technology, Supply Chain, tells Fresh Fruit Portal. “Partnering with Consumer Physics was an easy decision. Their impressive and novel brix measurement device allows us to reward the independent growers across our network who provide the ripest and best tasting berries.”

SPACs became the main event for Israeli startups 
Otonomo, a startup in the Maniv Mobility portfolio, plans to enter the Nasdaq through a SPAC merger, listing at an implied value of $1.4 billion. They follow OurCrowd portfolio company Innoviz and several more could be coming. In the US, there are almost 300 SPACS waiting to find a company and they raised almost $90 billion in 2020, a sixfold increase over 2019,  told The Times of Israel. SPACs have become a huge part of the public market. Where before it was a small sideshow, now it is one of the main events.

Top Tech News

BioCatch gets US patent for user credential verification
BioCatch, which uses behavioral biometrics to spot financial crimes that escape notice with more traditional security tools, acquired a US patent for the method it uses to verify a user’s identity and for detecting fraud, Crowdfund Insider reports. The verification process is based on the manner in which the user holds and accesses their mobile device.The company expanded its headcount and global footprint in 2020 by establishing a business office in Singapore and extending its operations in India. BioCatch now maintains an active presence on five continents and serves more than 40 clients, many of them leading financial institutions. It maintains a database of more than 200 million individual behavioral profiles and analyzes over 2 billion digital sessions every month. OurCrowd was an early investor in BioCatch in 2014 and invested in the recent $168M lead by Bain Capital.

NBA’s Russell Westbrook leads Varo Bank to $63M raise
A year after becoming the first US neobank to be granted a national bank charter, Varo Bank raised $63M in new funding led by NBA star Russell Westbrook, who will also join the startup as an advisor, TechCrunch reports. Westbrook will advise on the direction of Varo Bank’s programs aimed at underserved communities, including communities of color. Westbrook’s investment came through Russell Westbrook Enterprises. Existing Varo Bank investors include Warburg Pincus, The Rise Fund, Gallatin Point Capital, HarbourVest Partners and funds managed by BlackRock. Varo Bank last year raised $241 million in Series D funding. With the additional funds, Varo Bank’s total raise to date is now $482.4 million.

mPrest joins Microsoft Azure for energy companies
mPrest has joined forces with Microsoft to bring its energy software solutions to Microsoft Azure for the energy industry, supporting the goal of zero emissions and sustainability, AIthority reports. mPrest, which serves major utility companies worldwide, joins Microsoft’s global independent software vendor partner ecosystem which includes sales and go-to-market support. The collaboration will leverage the flexibility of cloud capabilities and the power of SaaS to deliver mPrest’s orchestration and optimization platform on Azure to leading energy companies. “We are pleased to work with mPrest to help advance and support the industry’s commitment to sustainability and a goal of zero emissions,” says Darryl Willis, vice president of Energy at Microsoft Corp.‎ “Offering mPrest’s DERMS on Microsoft Azure will accelerate the digital transformation across energy markets.”

Superpedestrian readies for New York rollout
Superpedestrian, whose smart LINK escooters last longer and return profits in markets where others cannot compete, is getting ready to roll in New York City. A pilot program in the spring will test escooter share systems for at least a year in an 18-square-mile section of the East Bronx. “In a lot of ways it’s the perfect place to use scooters to improve transit equity,” Paul Steely White, director of public affairs at Superpedestrian, which applied to participate in the program, tells the Wall Street Journal. White noted that the area, home to 570,000 people, is popular with many essential workers who struggle with some of the city’s longest commutes because of poor mass-transit connections.


Your portfolio gets stronger when the OurCrowd network gets involved. Visit our Introductions page to see which of our companies are looking for connections that you may be able to help with.

Job Vacancies

Read the OurCrowd Quarterly Jobs Index here.
Despite the coronavirus pandemic, there are hundreds of open positions at our global portfolio companies. See some opportunities below:

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