Canadian company BlackBerry is closing down its Israel development center with 40 employees in Petah Tikva. BlackBerry founded its development activity in Israel in 2015 on the basis of WatchDox, a startup that it acquired for $100 million. A staff of 20 employees in the US who have worked on WatchDox's product simultaneously with employees in Israel will continue to maintain the product.
Israeli cybersecurity company WatchDox, which developed technology for securing documents and files, was founded in 2008 by Motil Rafalin, Noam Livnat, and Yuval Yaeger (none of the founders are still with the company). Investors in WatchDox included serial entrepreneur Shlomo Kramer and Mickey Boodaei. The company had 80 employees when it was acquired, but now has 40 employees, who will lose their jobs before the holidays, a period when little hiring takes place in the technology industry. Market sources expressed concern that the laid off employees will have difficulty finding jobs in the immediate future. The development center in Israel is managed by Oren Geva.
WatchDox was sold to BlackBerry after the Canadian company lost its momentum in a mobile telephony market now dominated by Google Android and Apple. The steep decline in its revenue caused BlackBerry to shed a third of its staff worldwide in 2012. Since BlackBerry's mobile operating systems were always known for their high level of security, the company decided to switch its focus from sales of telephones to security products and services.
BlackBerry completely closed down its telephone business in 2016 and laid off 200 employees worldwide. Since that time, part of BlackBerry's business has prospered, while other parts have stagnated and been closed down. For example, last May, the company announced that it was shutting down a version for private users of its BBM messaging software.
No response from BlackBerry was available.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on August 25, 2019
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