Leumi CEO in talks to become high tech fund partner

Rakefet Russak-Aminoach Photo: Ron Kedmi / Photo: Ron Kedmi,

Rakefet Russak-Aminoach is in advanced talks to join cybersecurity fund Team8, which has raised $175 million and posted one exit so far.

Bank Leumi (TASE: LUMI) CEO Rakefet Russak-Aminoach, who earlier today announced that she is stepping down, is in talks with cybersecurity group Team8, led by cofounder and CEO, former Israel Intelligence Corps Unit 8200 commander Nadav Zafrir, sources inform "Globes." It is believed that if the negotiations, which have reached an advanced stage, culminate in an agreement, Russak-Aminoach will join the fund in a senior position, such as partner, and lead its expansion in fintech.

Israel Discount Bank (TASE: DSCT) CEO Lilach Asher-Topilsky is taking a similar path; after recently announcing her resignation, she will become a partner in FIMI Opportunity Funds.

Team8, founded in 2015, is a venture capital fund and a platform for founding cybersecurity companies. Instead of investing in startups with an idea looking for initial capital like conventional venture capital funds, Team8 looks for areas in which a technological solution is needed and tries to find a management team that can apply one. Every company founded gets a $5 million check for five years and help in connecting with strategic partners and recruiting personnel. When it raised its second fund, Team 8 added spheres of activity; it now operates in cybersecurity, big data, and artificial intelligence.

Besides Zafrir, Team8's leadership includes former Unit 8200 cybersecurity section head Israel Grimberg and Liran Grinberg. Another founder is entrepreneur Ronni Zehavi, who is no longer active in the group. Serial entrepreneur and investor Yuval Shachar is managing partner and executive chairman in Team8, which has 400 employees in its offices around the world, including employees in the eight startups it has founded to date.

The group has raised over $175 million so far from financial and strategic investors, including rating group Moody's; the two firms are developing a rating for cybersecurity readiness for companies. Other investors are Softbank, Walmart, Microsoft, Cisco Systems, Accenture, AT&T, and Temasek. Each of these partners helps Team8 in making offers to new startups, helps evaluate the new technologies, and also constitutes a potential buyer for the companies receiving investments.

It is too early to tell whether Team8's model is successful. The startups in which it has invested have raised $150 million up until now from the group and other investors, but the group itself has had only one exit so far - the sale of Sygnia, which develops and provides organizations with technology and advice in dealing with cyber attacks, to Temasek, one of the investors in Team8, for $250 million.

Russak-Aminoach's background is not in technology, but her strategy in recent years stressed the digital realm, especially online banking. In this framework, she led the founding of digital bank Pepper and the launching of the Pepper Pay payment app.

Bank Leumi and Team8 declined to respond to this report.

Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on June 30, 2019

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2019

Rakefet Russak-Aminoach Photo: Ron Kedmi / Photo: Ron Kedmi,
Rakefet Russak-Aminoach Photo: Ron Kedmi / Photo: Ron Kedmi,
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