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Archive | 2012 | January

Lance Armstrong invests in Israeli founded startup (Via New York Post)

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January 31, 2012
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A Big Apple tech upstart is hoping cycling great Lance Armstrong still has some giddyap left in the tank.

The seven-time Tour de France winner has snapped up a stake in Mobli, a socialnetworking startup, and will use his fame and legendary drive to help the company gain traction in the competitive field of mobile apps, The Post has learned.

The precise amount of the investment could not be learned, but Mobli (www.mobli.com ) is expected to announce the deal as soon as today.

Armstrong is the second bold-faced name to purchase a stake in Mobli — and continues a growing trend among tech startups to try and copy a blueprint well executed by other tech companies, like Twitter, of using celebrity power to attract consumer traffic.

Moshiko Hogeg, the tech firm’s founder, became interested in hooking up with Armstrong because the sports star was among the first to gain 1 million Twitter followers, proving his social media power. Armstrong is expected to start posting content to the Mobli site as soon as today.

Last year, Leonardo DiCaprio bought a stake in Mobli, a social-networking firm that features photos and video on the go, as part of a $4 million round of fundraising. Hogeg said the DiCaprio investment could grow by tenfold after the next round of financing is complete later this quarter.

Hogeg has shunned major venture capital dollars at super-valuations in favor of smaller doses of cash from the celebrity world. He said there is interest from big Silicon Valley firms to invest — and that six such offers were entertained in the Armstrong round of investing.

“It doesn’t mean we won’t go with one VC in the end,” he said. “Right now we just can’t justify it, and so far we are getting along great with investors whose added value is not in the tech world.”

Hogeg would not disclose the amount that Armstrong invested but said it was minimal and not as much as DiCaprio’s contribution.

The fast money is a sign of the social-media situation Mobli finds itself in, a world in which Facebook is planning to turn public with about $5 billion in revenue but approaching $100 billion in value.

Mobli is pre-revenue, a term startups use while they focus on perfecting the product and growing usage but before they make any money.

The firm’s base is less than a million early adopters, while Facebook has more than 800 million.

Foursquare, perhaps New York City’s hottest socialmedia company, reached 10 million members in its first three years, enough to catapult it toward just under $1 billion valuation.

Mobli will lean on DiCaprio, as well, to develop content for the site, the type of content that Google covets for YouTube, which is spending about $100 million for celebrities to create their own channels along with other initiatives to spur original content creation.

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VIDEO: Another Montrealer hits the stage of THE VOICE ISRAEL

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January 31, 2012
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Who is MAT? (According to his FB Fanpage)

MAT is a new singer/songwriter from Montreal. Of Italian and Moroccan descent. He grew up listening to lots of different music genres. He discover his voice and started writing poems at the age of 16. After a trip to Cuba in 2009 where he met Kiki a cuban producer they became friends and started working together. This album is the result of their cooperation. Let MAT take you on a journey into his world where you will experience pop music with a very original style.

For FULL performance… go to 41:30

Israel racing towards NextGen Internet by Benji Lovitt

Posted on:
January 30, 2012
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If you’ve learned anything from reading this site, hopefully it’s that size doesn’t matter.  Or put a different way, good things sometimes come in small packages.  But here’s a little secret, a different way of saying the same thing:  when size does matter, it often matters in ways you wouldn’t expect, favoring the little guy.

We’ve already talked extensively about Better Place, the Israeli company which is about to rock our worlds by delivering a network of charging stations to power the next generation of electric cars.  Just days ago, these cars went live in Israel.  Israel of course is the perfect breeding ground for this kind of experiment.  Its tiny size is exactly what makes it so conducive to rolling out something en masse.  When this young country does lag behind the rest of the first world in something, it’s able to catch up and adapt much more quickly than a larger nation.

(Here comes the segue….everyone ready?)

Seems that over the last several years, Israel’s internet speed has lagged behind much of the Western world’s with speeds too slow to match their “start-up nation” status.  That’s about to change.  The national electric company is preparing to rollout a massive new network with the highest-speed internet available today, boosting connections by a factor of between ten and (wait for it) one hundred times the current speeds.

According to one of the company’s senior management team, “All the developing countries that have a vision for 10 years ahead, or 20 years ahead, understand that the name of the game will be communications, broadband communications, very fast communications.”  Ironically, most of these countries have the internet but not the cutting-edge technology.  Israel has the latter and is about to have both.

This broadband internet connection is achieved with technology called “fiber to the home”, a fiber optic cable connection which can deliver a significantly higher amount of bandwidth of various types (data, video, phone) than the old-school copper coaxial connection.  Not only are connections much faster but the price is the same, allowing for dramatic breakthroughs in how we use technology in our daily lives and jobs.

Consider the possibilities:  poor quality (or non-existent) videoconferencing, no longer a problem.  Doctors’ ability to monitor their patients in real time or assist with medical procedures remotely.   Heard of this “cloud” that everyone’s talking about?  No longer will we be tied to our laptops or home computers.  In the time you’re reading this article (or sentence), massive amounts of data and files can be transferred to the cloud for easy access anywhere.  And we haven’t even talked about HD movie rentals yet.  (Ok, ok, maybe that’s a bit less important.)

There is no question that if all the technology Israel prides itself on is the vehicle to drive into the front of the technology world, internet speed is the key (I almost wrote “gasoline” but that’s so 20th century, right, Better Place?)

With more than 90% of its population living in urban areas, Israel is well positioned for a speedy rollout of this new service with the majority of the country prepared to receive the new connection speed within seven years.  Buckle your seatbelts, it’s going to be a fast ride!

Israeli film industry is a surprising powerhouse (Via CBS)

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January 30, 2012
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(AP)  JERUSALEM — The budgets are bare-bones and the talent pool is limited, but Israel has emerged as a surprising powerhouse in the foreign film industry.

The Israeli film “Footnote,” up for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film this year, is Israel’s fourth such nomination in the past five years, giving Israel more nominations during that period than any other country.

It’s an indication to the renaissance of Israeli cinema, which has grown from a fledgling industry with poor cinematography and low box office sales to a darling of world film festivals. That’s in spite — or perhaps because — of the country’s troubled international reputation, due to its lengthy conflict with the Arab world.

The last three Israeli films that made it to the Oscar shortlist all mine the country’s troubles with its Arab neighbors. “Beaufort,” nominated in 2008, and “Waltz with Bashir,” nominated a year after, both explored Israeli soldiers’ experiences in Lebanon. “Ajami,” the 2010 nominee, centers on Arab-Jewish tensions in a violence-ridden neighborhood near Tel Aviv.

This year’s nomination went to an Israeli film featuring a more internal conflict — two professors of Talmud, a father and son, dueling for academic prestige and a coveted national prize.

“It’s a badge of honor for Israel,” said Moshe Edery, producer of “Footnote,” at a news conference after the Oscar nomination. “It’s Israel’s best business card around the world, especially these days.”

Israeli cinema was long an embarrassment. Cheap comic melodramas were the norm in the 1960s and 1970s. Called “bourekas films” — the Israeli equivalent of spaghetti Westerns — they dealt with ethnic stereotypes of European and Middle Eastern Jews.

Sick of those tired tropes, a group of Israeli moviemakers created an Israeli national movie fund in 1979, hopefully named the “Israeli Fund to Encourage Quality Films.”

With meager funding from studios and other private entities, filmmakers rely on public funds. But even with help from the new fund, the industry still floundered for two decades.

In 1995, the government cut public funding for cinema in half, leaving enough money to produce only five films a year. Three years later the industry hit an all-time low: Only 0.3 percent of Israeli moviegoers bought tickets to Hebrew-language cinema.

The national film body took on a new name, the Israel Film Fund, and in 2000 it begged Israel’s parliament to save Israeli cinema. It did, boosting the budget to $10 million a year for investment in feature films, mandating that young filmmakers get a chance to make themselves known.

It’s what gave Joseph Cedar, the Israeli director of the Oscar-nominated films “Footnote” and “Beaufort,” his first big break fresh out of film school: The Israel Film Fund supported his first feature, “Time of Favor,” which debuted in 2000.

“We didn’t know him, but he had enthusiasm. There was something about his passion,” said Katriel Schory, executive director of the national fund. “We took a chance.”

In the past, “cinema funds would not support a filmmaker’s first feature,” said Renen Schorr, founder and director of the Sam Spiegel Film & Television School in Jerusalem. “Today, Israel wants young people to make their first films.”

The boost in public funding has dovetailed with investments in Israeli cinema by European and Canadian producers, totaling about $15 million and increasing the number of films Israel puts out annually to nearly 20, according to the Film Fund.

Israel’s television industry has also blossomed in recent years. After cable channels and a commercial TV station broke the monopoly and monotony of a lone state-run channel in the early 90s, there was a sudden need for new TV content, spurring competition and creativity among local screenwriters.

Now Hollywood TV executives are taking notice, adapting Israeli shows for American audiences. Showtime’s hit thriller “Homeland” is adapted from the Israeli drama “Prisoners of War,” the NBC game show “Who’s Still Standing” originated in Israel, and other Israeli adaptations are currently in development for American TV.

Despite the surge in budgets, funding is a fraction of public money available for filmmakers in European countries.

While Israel has scored some Academy Award nominations in recent years, it hasn’t won. None of the 10 Israeli films that made the best foreign language film shortlist over the years has won the big prize.

Now the focus is on Cedar, director of “Footnote,” but he told reporters that the coveted Oscar isn’t the only measure of success for a filmmaker.

That is exactly the lesson that his Oscar-nominated film imparts, he said.

“‘Footnote’ deals with the question of what happens when, while you’re living your daily life, a prize is offered, which really takes over your moral reasoning and changes your perspective and sometimes completely destroys your perspective,” Cedar said, summarizing the main plot line of his movie.

Source: CBSnews.com

Viva Refaeli! Israeli model Bar shows off her fabulous legs in slashed-to-the-thigh dress on Italian TV show

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January 30, 2012
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As one of the most popular swimwear and lingerie models in the world, Bar Refaeli is renowed for her stunning curves.

But even when relatively ‘covered up’ for an Italian TV show appearance, the Israeli model still showed off plenty of flesh.

Filming a pre-recorded appearance for Italian TV show Chiambretti Sunday Night on Saturday, the 26-year-old showed off her long legs in a frilly slashed-to-the-thigh dress.

Legging it: Israeli model Bar Refaeli shows off her stunning figure in her frilly dress as she films an appearance on Italian TV show Chiambretti Sunday Night
Legging it: Israeli model Bar Refaeli shows off her stunning figure in her frilly dress as she films an appearance on Italian TV show Chiambretti Sunday Night

Legging it: Israeli model Bar Refaeli shows off her stunning figure in her frilly dress as she films an appearance on Italian TV show Chiambretti Sunday Night

Showing plenty of leg: Even when sitting down, her long legs were on showShowing plenty of leg: Even when sitting down, her long legs were on show

The 5ft 9in star went for a relaxed glamour look in the dress, which she teamed with natural make-up, flowing hair and tan gladiator sandals.

During the show, she was entertained by the host Piero Chiambretti and some female dancers.

At her hotel in Milan, it appeared the model struggled to sleep on Friday night due to her noisy neighbours.

Entertaining: Refaeli laughed as she was treated to a dance by a sexy female starEntertaining: Refaeli laughed as she was treated to a dance by a sexy female star

She tweeted: ‘How easy did the Euro make life ha?! Can some1 make the same with the freaking plugs?? “Europlugs”- same in every country. #EasierLife!

‘Dear neighbour, drilling at 8am, may wake up your neighbours. just a thought… grrrr.’

Last week, Refaeli announced she would be following in the footsteps of other models by launching her own lingerie collection.

Branching out: The Israeli model is planning to launch her own lingerie range next monthBranching out: The Israeli model is planning to launch her own lingerie range next month

She was unveiled Under.me in the UK next month, just ahead of Valentine’s Day.

She told Women’s Wear Daily: ‘The philosophy is that underwear should complement your body, not steal the show.

It was appealing to me to do a line of underwear from the fabric I like with the basic, comfy design I always look for, as well as underwear that can actually be delivered to your door.’

Bion giorno: Refaeli poses for a photo with the show's host Piero ChiambrettiBion giorno: Refaeli poses for a photo with the show’s host Piero Chiambretti

Diminutive: With her high heels and 5ft 9in height, the model towered over ChiambrettiDiminutive: With her high heels and 5ft 9in height, the model towered over Chiambretti

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2093271/Bar-Refaeli-shows-fabulous-legs-slashed-thigh-dress-Italian-TV-show.html#ixzz1ky2bfVXo

VIDEO: Tel Aviv becomes hotbed for gay tourism (Via Globe and Mail and AP)

Posted on:
January 30, 2012
LGBTQ, Video
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Tel Aviv, Israel is a gay-friendly resort city that attracts liberal tourists from around the world.

Via Globe and Mail, Video by the Associated Press

 Click here to view VIDEO