Israeli intrepenours, Prof. Amnon Shashua and Ziv Aviram, has completed raising of $30.4 million capital for their new unicorn company Orcam at a value of $1 billion before money.
Shashua and Aviram had agreed last year (2017) to sell their autonomous vehicle technology firm Mobileye to Intel for $15.3 billion.
Founded in 2010, the Jerusalem based startup Orcam has developed a computer vision device that includes a miniature video camera and processing unit, which weighs less than an ounce, that can be attached to a pair of eyeglasses.
Through a computer vision algorithm, the device is able to read the text of a book aloud,or any other texts it encounters, such as street signs, a restaurant menu, a newspaper to those with vision problems.
It can identify supermarket products and distinguish different denominations of bills. The identification is communicated to the user verbally with almost no delay from the moment the information is requested by pointing. And also can announce the names of friends and family in a room in 12 languages.
It can be clipped to a belt or placed in a pocket, and it needs to be kept charged. The cost is about $4,500 in the U.S., comparable to the price of mid-range hearing aids. Thousands have been sold, according to the company.
According to the World Health Organization 253 million people are blind or visually impaired, more than 3 percent of the world’s population.
The round brings total investment in OrCam to about $130 million. The new round was led by Clal Insurance and Meitav Dash and was joined by most of Orcam’s existing investors.
The company’s last financing round, in March 2017, was based on a company value of $600 million. Intel’s venture arm
Among the previous investors were the Aviv Fund of Yoav Chelouche and BRM of the Bareket brothers and Intel’s investment arm which invested $6 million in 2014 but has not participated in following rounds.
Last year, Reuters reported the founders’ intention to issue OrCam by the end of 2018; However, the large amount of money flowing to the company from institutional entities apparently allows it to postpone the issue and continue to establish itself.
“The IPO is planned 18-24 months after the pre-IPO round, which we expect to be carried out within a year,” Aviram, CEO of Aviram, told TheMarker.
“In other words, the company’s issue will not be before 2020, and of course it is limited, because it is difficult to plan the progress of the company and the state of the market at the time they want to issue.”
The capital raised will be used for research, co-founder Ziv Aviram said in a statement.