Spanish telecom giant makes first Israeli investment, more to come

Telefonica’s innovation arm has invested in 800 startups around the world and now turns its attention to Israel.

By Abigail Klein Leichman, ISRAEL21c

Wayra, the innovation arm of Spanish telecom giant Telefónica, has made its first investment in Israel, participating in the pre-seed round of Upword, an AI-powered summarization tool cofounded by CEO Roee Barak.

Upword developed a Chrome extension that gives users key information from webpages, helping them read online 10 times faster and generate AI-powered notes and summaries to share, read or listen to.

Telefónica is Europe’s biggest telecom company and the fifth largest in the world. Through Wayra, Telefónica has already invested in 800 startups around the world in the last decade and generated 285 million euros in revenue.

Now it has arrived in Israel to invest a large amount of capital into the startup ecosystem.

Luisa Rubio, head of Telefónica’s remote VC Wayra X, is visiting entrepreneurs in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, offering them the chance to “hyper-scale” their startups with millions of real users by testing and validating their products with privileged access to a worldwide market comprised of more than 370 million clients in 33 countries.

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Telefónica also provides capital and business development opportunities for the startups they invest in.

“We are more than happy to invest in Upword as we believe the Israeli startup ecosystem is one of the most promising entrepreneurial landscapes in the world,” said Rubio.

“We’re excited to support their sophisticated AI technology, helping people quickly capture key ideas and reduce up to 85% of their reading time.”