Facebook buys Israeli startup Onavo

Published on Tuesday, 15 October 2013 by Webmaster

Facebook buys Israeli startup Onavo
(In the photo: Staff at Israeli starup Onavo. Photo by Meir Pinto)

Under deal, Facebook agrees, for the first time, to run an R&D center in Israel.

Facebook, the world's largest social network, has signed an agreement to acquire the Israeli startup Onavo for more than $150 million. Onavo, the developer of an award-winning mobile utility app and the company behind Onavo Insights, made the announcement Monday morning to its employees and published a notice on its blog.

According to the agreement, Onavo will keep its Israeli offices, with their 30 employees, making this the first time that Facebook will run a research and development center here. When Facebook acquired Snaptu andFace.com, it transferred the employees to its own offices in the Silicon Valley. Facebook will also be keeping the products that Onavo developed.

Onavo burst onto the scene as a company that helped users reduce their mobile data costs. In April 2011, it launched Onavo Extend, an application that kept track of megabyte-guzzling apps and compressed data, lowering surfing costs by up to 80 percent. Onavo Extend was launched at a time when cellular surfing packages were limited in size and data use was costly. It was particularly useful to people who took their smartphones abroad and wanted to keep high roaming costs down. In fact, the idea behind Onavo was conceived when the brother of founder and CEO Guy Rosen got an enormous cellular phone bill after a trip to Barcelona.

The communications technology Onavo developed matched the experience of its founders, Rosen and Roi Tiger, had gained while serving in the Israeli army's intelligence unit, Unit 8200. During installation, the cellular device connects to a cloud-based compression service that Onavo developed. Once the app has been installed, every time the user consumes content, the content is compressed in the cloud and sent to the user's device in compressed, "lighter" form — allowing end-users to use up to five times more data and still remain within the limits of their package.

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