With an options donation, Waze spreads the wealth

With an options donation, Waze spreads the wealth

A gift several years ago by the Israeli start-up – now bought by Google – has paid off handsomely for kids in need

Noam Bardin (Photo credit: Courtesy Waze)
Noam Bardin (Photo credit: Courtesy Waze)

Google’s purchase of Waze paid off for investors, who shared in the proceeds from the $966 million the company was sold for. It also paid off for employees, who are rumored to have received hundreds of thousands of dollars in bonuses.

Now, thanks to options donated by the company in 2011, the Waze buyout is paying off for some of Israel’s neediest — including special needs kids, children suffering from Rett syndrome, and teens suffering from sexual assault. Courtesy of Waze, certain charities will receive a piece of an NIS 5 million pie, to be distributed by Tmura, a social service “venture fund” that invests in promising start-ups, and uses the proceeds of their success to help worthy causes.

Tmura is well-known in Israel’s high-tech community. Founded in 2002, the group aims to increase the sector’s involvement in nonprofit activity in Israel, with a focus on education and other youth-related initiatives. Tmura receives donations of equity — shares, options, or other stakes — from Israeli and Israel-related high-tech companies, and upon an exit (buyout, IPO, etc.) cashes in that equity, providing much-needed donations to nearly two dozen groups, mostly involved in helping out kids in need.

Over 300 companies have donated to Tmura, with the proceeds from sales of equity amounting to a windfall worth over $9 million over the past decade to these groups. For example, Tmura “earned” over $400,000 from the exercise of its options in Intucell last April after the Israeli company was acquired by Cisco. In 2012, equity donations from XtremIO, CrossRider, DesignArt Networks, Vringo, Worklight, and Wanova all paid off after exits in all those companies. Until now, Tmura’s biggest “deal” was in the buyout of solid state drive technology company XtremeIO in 2012, which netted over $450,000 for Tmura after a reported $430 million exit.

But the Waze deal eclipses them all. Waze contributed options to Tmura in 2011, and following Google’s acquisition of the company in June of this year, has generated Tmura’s biggest exit to date – bringing in a whopping $1.5 million.

That money will go to fund worthy programs in five organizations, Tmura said, including Chinuch L’Psagot, a nonprofit organization that focuses on education and nurtures pupils from underprivileged areas who demonstrate potential; Israeli Rett Syndrome Foundation (Hebrew link), which funds research for treatments and a cure for Rett syndrome, a devastating disease with symptoms mirroring the worst aspects of cerebal palsy and autism; Krembo Wings, the only youth movement in Israel for children with special needs; the Tel Aviv Sexual Assault Crisis Center, Israel’s largest; and Tzeva (Hebrew link), an educational enrichment program that serves over 600 kids.

Waze CEO Noam Bardin couldn’t be more pleased for Tmura. “We are excited by this opportunity to make a real difference in the community,” he said. “Tmura’s model enabled us to involve Waze employees in the allocation process and this has truly been an inspiring experience for the entire company.”

“Nonprofits are continually faced with fundraising challenges, making it difficult to plan from year to year,” explained Amos Gaver, chairman of Tmura’s Grants Committee. “With these grants, we hope to alleviate at least some of this burden and help these organizations with their planning for the coming years.”

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