BMW Invests In Israelis, Not In Israel

New York-based, Israeli-run Claroty gets key investment from BMW i Ventures

Israel may be a hotbed for technological innovation, but it’s less the country and more the people that drive its pioneering spirit. Case in point: BMW’s latest “strategic investment.”

The Bavarian automaker has invested an undisclosed portion of its half-billion-euro venture capital fund in Claroty – a cybersecurity firm that, while based in New York, was founded (and remains led) principally by Israelis.

Two of its three co-founders come from Israel. So do its president, CFO, COO, and the majority of its other senior executives and board members. The company operates out of its corporate headquarters on Madison Avenue in Manhattan, but has offices in Tel Aviv (as well as Paris and Washington, DC).

Claroty specializes in “cybersecurity for industrial and critical infrastructure environments,” which is an area of prime concern particularly for automakers developing autonomous vehicles.

It’s a field which BMW values at $450 million globally, but growing at a rate of 55%, it’s projected to be worth about $2.5 billion by 2022. Last year German automotive supplier Continental AG spent over $400 million to acquire Argus, a Tel Aviv-based company focused on automotive cyber security.

“Our investment in Claroty is a clear signal that we are taking the need for industrial cybersecurity very seriously and recognize the tremendous growth potential in the sector,” BMW i Ventures principal Tobias Jahn said upon the announcement of its investment. “Claroty’s unmatched team, technical superiority, and strategic partnerships with multiple large automation vendors like Rockwell Automation, Siemens and Schneider Electric, convinced us they have the capability for rapid growth and to maintain the leadership position within this segment far into the future.”

In stark contrast to rival German automakers Daimler and Volkswagen, BMW has largely kept out of the burgeoning Israeli transport-tech sector. Of the 32 companies in which BMW i Ventures has invested to date, Moovit stands out as the only one based in Israel. But with Claroty now under its wing as well, the public-transit app developers may find themselves with colleagues with which to converse in their own language should BMW gather the recipients of its investments together in one place.

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