VC Launches With $120M Aimed At Big Ideas In IoT


Another venture capital firm has joined the tech startup scene.

Moonscape Ventures, with offices in Silicon Valley and Israel, is a recently launched, $120 million fund focused on making plays in the Internet of Things. It's backed by serial entrepreneur Mati Kochavi, founder of smart city and IoT solution provider AGT International, which has over $1 billion in revenue, and news site Vocativ, which uses proprietary data-mining technology to help its reporters generate story ideas.

Moonscape Ventures' strategy more specifically focuses on companies with technologies in big data, smart cities and media, deploying early-stage investments of between $500,000 and $5 million.

[Related: Top 10 VC-Funded Hardware Companies That Got Their Start Via Crowdfunding]

"It's a really cool space [IoT] and I think that everything [that can] provide us [with a] better understanding of our environment is going to be very important and that's where we are," Kochavi said.

Moonscape in some ways functions very closely to the same concept, driving the same IoT technologies it chases in which everything is interconnected. The impetus for starting the Moonscape fund is directly related to Kochavi's other ventures, AGT and Vocativ, he said.

Take the firm's first investment of $3.1 million in New York-based SocialStudios, whose technology takes data mined from social media to create personalized video content. SocialStudios is expected to be incorporated into Vocativ in the fall, founder Moshi Delgo told CRN.

Vocativ itself has turned heads with its use of data-gathering technology to mine the web for potential stories that haven't been noticed by the mainstream press to use as the basis for further reporting. Its editorial team includes former reporters from Reuters and The New York Times, among other outlets.

"Not only will Moonscape Ventures' $3.1 million investment support us as we continue to expand our technology, we have also been able to partner and work with Mati Kochavi's extensive network of existing customers and projects around the world," Delgo said.

More deals are in the firm's pipeline, according to Kochavi.

It's in talks with a U.S.-based company and another located just outside of Tel Aviv.

All of the companies Kochavi's started, including the venture capital firm, are born out of his personal interest in the Internet of Things, with the companies he starts ultimately boiling down to applications that help customers solve big problems, he said.

While SocialStudios will partner with Vocativ in the fall, Kochavi's other company, AGT, is working with Cisco.

The two formed the Smart City Global Strategic Alliance in February, which uses Cisco's networking and virtualized computing technologies and AGT's smart city software platform and analytics for traffic management or safety solutions, among other applications aimed at making cities "smarter."

Additional projects in the works are helping manage a couple of ports in Europe and what Kochavi described as a "major organization" in North America.

"Internet of Things is going to create a new ecosystem," Kochavi said. "It's a body of data and content which is out there, and you just need to collect it. It allows you to sense the world or the enterprise or city in very new and different ways, and I think it's going to be a great way to deal with the stress … on infrastructure -- the ground stress on environmental issues. It's going to be able to solve serious problems for enterprises."

PUBLISHED AUG. 22, 2014