Francisco Partners Acquires Israeli Intelligence Cyber-Tracking NSO For $130 Million

Smartphone , people

Intelligence gathering solutions developer NSO Group Technologies Ltd. has been acquired by US private equity fund Francisco Partners  LLC for $110-120 million.

NSO has raised only a few million dollars. Because technology is so security sensitive, the sale would require the approval of the Defense Ministry, which bans the sale of the technology from private buyers.

NSO founded in 2009 by Omri Lavie, Shalev Houlio, and Niv Carmi. Lavie and Houlio are serial entrepreneurs who formed MediaAnd in 2007 and CommuniTake in 2008. Carmi has left the company after a short while, leaving Houlio and Shalev as the main shareholders.
The company’s technology “Pegasus” can monitor communications by parties that intelligence agencies are keeping under surveillance. The product is a piece of trojan software that is delivered onto a target mobile phone and then it begins to harvest information from that phone. It collects messages, photos, data, and Internet traffic. It can also take complete control and remotely operate the device’s camera to surreptitiously film the user’s environment. 
A group of investors led by Adi Shalev, a partner in the Genesis Partners venture capital fund, hold a 30% stake. The company’s founders, who own 60 %, are the main beneficiaries of the sale.
NSO employs 50 people in Herzliya. The revenues for 2013 were expected to reach $40 million.
According to Bloomberg, there are 230 companies in the data interception and tracking industry, among them such prominent firms as Europe’s Nokia Solutions and Networks (formerly Nokia Siemens Networks), the Israeli companies Nice Systems, Verint and Allot Communication and the American BlueCoat and SS8.


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