Korean tech-giant Samsung is in advanced negotiations to acquire Israeli company Corephotonics for $150-160 million, sources inform "Globes." Corephotonics has developed a camera with dual lense technology for smartphones, which is designed to improve the quality of smartphone images. According to IVC, the company, which was founded in 2012, has raised a total of $50 million, which will give the investors a fine return. Corephotonics declined to respond to the report.
Corephotonics was founded by CEO David Mendlovic, a professor of electrical engineering at Tel Aviv University and former Ministry of Science and Technology chief scientist; chief development officer Dr. Gal Shabtay; chief registration officer Eran Kali; Dr. Noy Cohen; and Ephraim Goldenberg. The company employs a staff of dozens in its facilities in Tel Aviv's Ramat Hahayal.
The main investors in Corephotonics are Samsung Ventures, one of Samsung's investment arms in Israel; Foxconn, a large manufacturer of electronic components; Taiwanese company MediaTek, the world's largest manufacturer of mobile communications chips; Israeli fund Magma Venture Partners; the Amiti Ventures fund; Horizon Ventures, controlled by Chinese billionaire Li Ka Shing and Solina Chau; crowdfunding platform OurCrowd; flash memory company SanDisk; and Chinese telephony provider CK Telecom.
Corephotonics works with all of the large smartphone companies. Shabtay once told "TheMarker" that the company had realized thatת "There are several large gaps, above all an optical zoom lens. Real zoom does not exist in a smartphone camera, which only has a digital zoom that is actually a manipulation of the image." One of the challenges faced by the smartphone manufacturers is the need to making the devices thinner. Samsung is also planning to launch a folding smartphone in the coming months. It was previously reported that Corephotonics was planning to expand its activity to the vehicle, drones, and security systems markets.
Corephotonics does not manufacture the camera itself; it only designs it. Reuters reported in November 2017 that the Israeli company had filed suit against Apple Computers for using the technology it had developed, for which Corephotonics said it had a registered patent, in the iPhone 7 plus and the iPhone 8 plus. The fate of this lawsuit is unknown.
Samsung Ventures: 15 investments in Israel
Samsung invests in Israel through two arms. The first is Samsung Ventures, which operates like a conventional corporate venture capital fund, meaning that it makes strategic investments in companies operating in Samsung's fields of business. Samsung Ventures began investing in Israel 10 years ago. The second is Samsung Next, which invests in companies in the initial stages in order to find companies and areas of business likely to prove tangential to Samsung's activity in the future.
Samsung Ventures invested in 15 Israeli companies, including EarlySense, which develops a system for monitoring patients' medical situation without touching the patient's body, and which this week announced the completion of a $39 million financing round; StoreDot, which develops advanced battery charging technology; and cyber company Deep Instinct. Samsung Ventures previously acquired Israeli company Boxee for tens of millions of dollars.
Samsung will soon celebrate the 10th anniversary of launching its Galaxy series of phones. In November, it was reported that the company was planning to launch four improved leading devices. According to the report, Samsung will issue three versions of the Galaxy S10 device in February, in contrast to the two devices launched in previous years. Each of these devices will have 3-5 cameras, and some of them may also have a feature making it possible to charge other devices using the smartphone.
Samsung is also developing a fourth model for 5G connectivity. The device, which will have a 6.7-inch screen, will be exported to the US and South Korea in the spring, and will reportedly be equipped with no fewer than six cameras: two in front and four in the rear.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on January 7, 2019
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