Walmart CEO Doug McMillon visits Israel

Doug McMillon Photo: Reuters

As it strives to compete with tech retail rival Amazon, Walmart is making major investments in Israeli high-tech.

Walmart Corp. president and CEO Doug McMillon has arrived in Israel at the head of a delegation of senior executives from the US retail giant. Visits by senior Walmart executives have become a matter of routine over the past decade as the retail corporation checks out the country's technological innovations and weighs up investment options, often through partners.

This is not the first time McMillon has been in Israel since he became CEO in 2013 but he has previously been able to keep his visits out of the media limelight. In 2018, senior delegations from Walmart were in Israel in April for meetings with an estimated 20 cybersecurity startups and in June for Cyber Week. Among the senior businesspeople that Walmart executives met with were Taboola founder Adam Singular and they were hosted by strategic consultant Ohad Finkelstein.

The current visit comes one month after Walmart acquired Israeli startup Aspectiva, which uses artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze consumer opinions and turn them into valuable insights for retailers. The acquisition was for several tens of millions of dollars.

As it strives to compete with its tech retail rival Amazon, Walmart has had informal operations in Israel for about 9 years and is continually checking out collaborations and potential investments. Sources close to Walmart say that it has collaborations with many startups that have not been publicized.

Walmart has made a strategic investment in Team8, an Israeli think tank and tech incubator, launched a joint venture with Eko, an interactive media and technology company with offices in Tel Aviv and New York, and recently joined The Bridge, a technology accelerator connecting global companies with the technology startup community in Israel. Walmart is also involved in Unilever's Israeli incubator Earthbound Technologies, which also serves as Walmart's official innovation center and Walmart Labs, which is the company's technology department joined Israel's YL Ventures as a consultant.

Another possibility is for Walmart to cooperate with Israeli food-tech incubators in developing products such as the Strauss Group Ltd. (TASE:STRS) incubator. Walmart also works with startups that streamline online commerce and Israeli company Twiggle provides the retailer with advanced search services. Last year Walmart's Indian subsidiary Flipkart bought Israeli company Upstream Commerce for about $30 million. Upstream Commerce builds cloud-based, automated competitive pricing and product analysis solutions.

Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on March 28, 2019

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

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Doug McMillon Photo: Reuters
Doug McMillon Photo: Reuters
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