Israeli startup Argus Cyber Security, which was founded by graduates of IDF signals intelligence unit 8200, is about to be sold to a global player in the automotive market for about $400 million, sources inform "Globes". The company provides cyber security solutions for vehicles, a field that has attracted considerable attention because of the forecasts of the spread of autonomous vehicles in the coming decades. Argus has a solution, for example, that prevents hackers from breaking into a car's systems and taking over control of teh vehicle.
According to automotive industry sources, one of the main candidates to buy Argus is German company Continental, an international vehicle parts supplier, and a leader in smart vehicle technology. In March this year, "Globes" marked Argus as a candidate for a mega-deal, with great interest in the automotive industry in acquiring the company.
Continental, which had sales of $40 billion last year, has carried out several acquisitions of startup companies specializing in smart vehicle technology in recent years, and it has its own venture capital fund.
Argus and Continental have collaborated for some time, through Continental subsidiary Elektrobit. The two companies recently announced expansion of their joint vehicle cyber product range into chips that will enable vehicle manufacturers to update software and download data from vehicles wirelessly.
Argus already offers an "end-to-end" security solution, partly based on Argus's technology.
Argus had four founders, including three graduates of IDF Intelligence Unit 8200: CEO Ofer Ben-Noon, VP R&D Oron Lavi, and CTO Yaron Galula. The fourth founder is Zohar Zisapel, one of the founding fathers of Israeli high tech.
Argus, which was founded in 2013, currently has 70 employees, mostly in Tel Aviv. According to the IVC database, the company has raised $30 million since it was founded. Investors in the Argus include founder Zohar Zisapel, Gil Agmon from Delek Motors, and Vertex Venture Capital and Magma Venture Partners.
One of the elements that have helped Argus near the coveted exit is its cooperation with most of the main players in the auto industry. Argus is already cooperating with Tier-1 auto industry super-suppliers like Continental and Magna International, and also with the principal suppliers of chips to the auto industry, including Intel, Qualcomm, NXP, Infineon, and others. One prominent Argus customer is Daimler, which has declared publicly its close cooperation with Argus.
Argus's technology provides a solution for an urgent need in the auto industry and industries related to security of the various communications channels and information interfaces to and from the vehicle, which are multiplying in the era of the autonomous and networked car.
Israeli companies in the sector are currently several years ahead of their competitors. We have therefore seen quite a few mergers and acquisitions in cyber protection for vehicles in recent years. The trend is clear: the game is becoming a theater for giants.
Israeli startup TowerSec Automotive Cyber Security was snatched up by Harman International Industries, which was in turn acquired this year by Samsung in a multi-billion dollar deal. Another cyber security company, Arilou Technologies, was acquired by Nng, which developed iGO navigational software.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on October 30, 2017
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