Infosys Building Israel Front to Tap its Startup Ecosystem

Bengaluru:
Making Way Infy CEO Vishal Sikka has brought in another of his former lieutenants, Jake Klein, from SAP for overseeing startup investments and acquisitions in Israel
Infosys has quietly started beefing up its operations in Israel to tap into the country’s innovation-rich startup ecosystem, ranked among the world’s top hubs for emerging technology businesses.Shortly after the firm bought Israel-based automation technology startup Panaya for $200 million (.`1,200 crore) in February , chief executive Vishal Sikka plucked out yet another of his former top lieutenants from SAP , Jake Klein, and tasked him with overseeing startup investments and acquisitions in Israel, a person directly familiar with the matter said, declining to be identified.

Klein had a similar function at SAP , where he was a senior vice president overseeing startup investments and helping SAP Ventures expand in Israel. At Infosys, he has been appointed as vice president of corporate development in Israel.

Infosys, India’s second-largest software exporter, has set aside at least a quarter of its $500-million Innovation Fund for investments in countries like India and Israel, ET reported in March. Sikka is keenly tracking startup hubs in Silicon Valley and Israel as Infosys hunts for disruptive solutions for new-age digital problems faced by customers such as Bank of America and Toyota.

Infosys did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on its Israel operations and plans for the region.

Klein and Sikka go way back. The Israelbased executive was one of the first to join hands with Sikka when he was building the path-breaking HANA platform for SAP . His appointment at Infosys is the company’s 14th such hire from SAP since Sikka took over as CEO in August last year.

In the past nine months, Sikka has hired Michael Reh, Ritika Suri, Abdul Razack, Navin Budhiraja, Yusuf Bashir and other senior executives from his former company to oversee key assignments at Infosys.

Bashir has been appointed as the head of Infosys’s startup fund overseeing investments in India, the US, Europe, Asia-Pacific and Japan, as well as of the newly launched Infosys Incubator.

Infosys is not the only Indian IT services firm looking to tap into Israel.Top rivals such as cross-town peer Wipro have also initiated conversations with venture capital funds in the re gion such as Jerusalem Venture Partners.

Ray Wang, founder and chairman of Constellation Research, said it makes sense for Infosys to tap into Israel now, given the new direction the company is attempting to move in under Sikka.

“The goal is to tap into the most innovative tech regions. Just like organizations tap into the Silicon Valley, Israel is a hot spot for innovation,“ said Wang. “There are a couple ways to do this. One, create a corporate venture group in a central location. Second, embed your team in the hot spots. Both work, it just depends how much scale you want.“

Source: The Economic Times

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Author:

Neeraj; an entrepreneur & a visionary in the field of Railway, Defense & Automobiles, is a graduate in commerce and a Harvard Business School Alumni. He’s an expert in govt. liasoning & contracting and has an exceptional network & connections at both local as well as global level. He’s an expert in Market Strategy & Planning and has served number of overseas companies as an advisor/consultant. He takes a profound interest in upcoming startups & is very receptive towards ground-breaking ideas & innovations. He likes to brainstorm those ideas and if the values & philosophies matches; he is even ready to invest his resources, serve as a mentor or act as an incubator to futuristic businesses.

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