Bennett repeats success with new $100 million exit

Economics minister is the ex-CEO of Soluto, which was sold this week to a US company — his second big exit

The Soluto team at the 2010 TechCrunch awards (Photo credit: Courtesy)
The Soluto team at the 2010 TechCrunch awards (Photo credit: Courtesy)

Economics Minister Naftali Bennett has hit the start-up jackpot again. As former CEO of Soluto, an Israeli start-up that has been acquired for a reported $100 million-$130 million, Bennett is set to earn what some sources said was a “significant” amount of money from the deal.

Soluto, which bills itself as “a new way to do IT (information technology),” allows users to fix problems on their own or others’ computers, tablets, and smartphones. For this purpose it provides a huge database of information about problems with hardware, software, and operating systems. Soluto users can spot hardware problems, install/uninstall applications, manage mobile devices, monitor a server or anything a tech support division of a business is supposed to do, taking advantage of Soluto’s accumulated knowledge.

Soluto is being acquired by Nashville-based Asurion, which provides tech insurance services for owners of hundreds of millions of devices, including replacing or repairing devices, as well as helping customers get their devices working. It’s for that latter business that Asurion acquired Soluto, which provides services similar to Asurion’s.

Soluto was founded in 2008, and its first product — a free remote repair service for PCs — was launched in 2010. The company won the prestigious TechCrunch Disrupt award that year, something that then-company chief product officer Roee Adler did not believe he would be able to pull off. With all the attention on smartphones and tablets (the iPad was launched April 3, 2010, just weeks before TechCrunch Disrupt that year), Adler was surprised that a “non-sexy” product, like a solution to make PCs run more efficiently, could win a contest known for highlighting the latest and greatest technology.

The audience response, and the win, “tells the whole story,” Adler said in an interview. “While the media goes on about advanced tech products, it turns out that there is a silent majority — actually a screaming majority — desperate for help with basic needs.”

The deal took place Monday, and was reported by TechCrunch and Israeli media Tuesday.

Naftali Bennett at a party meeting on March 18, 2013 (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Naftali Bennett at a party meeting on March 18, 2013 (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Bennett was CEO of Soluto in late 2009, but was an adviser to the company before that. According to sources in the company, the minister still has holdings in Soluto, although he would not confirm this to reporters Tuesday. He did say, however, that “if true, I congratulate the company, and I am happy that another Israeli company has had a successful exit.”

Soluto is the second exit Bennett will benefit from. In 1999, he co-founded anti-fraud company Cyota, which was bought out by security company RSA in 2005 for $145 million. RSA was later acquired by US company EMC, and the former Cyota/RSA facility in Herzliya is today the EMC/RSA Anti-fraud Command Center.

Bennett missed out yet another tech success – Waze, which was purchased by Google earlier this year for over $900 million. Waze was established in 2009, about the time he decided to step down as Benjamin Netanyahu’s chief of staff. Returning to tech, Bennett was offered the Waze job, based on his success at Cyota — but he turned the job down, instead taking on an appointment as chairman of the Yesha Council, the precursor to the establishment of his Jewish Home party.

Bennett’s office confirmed the story in a statement last June, saying that “Economy Minister Naftali Bennett was offered the job of Waze CEO after the company he owned was sold but he preferred to devote himself to public life.”

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