Lebanese startup goes global

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DiwaneeDespite an underdeveloped telecommunication infrastructure compared to its regional peers, Lebanon has managed in the past few years to lay the foundations of a supportive environment for start-ups. Entrepreneurs who a few years back struggled to secure funding to launch their businesses are today more likely to gain the backing of financial institutions, the Daily Star reported.

The trend may gain further momentum now that a number of start-ups have managed to scale their operations and attract international buyers, says Herve Cuvilliez, a co-founder of Lebanese-based regional news platform Diwanee.

Diwanee, a digital media company that specializes in content creation targeting women in the Middle East, was recently acquired by French digital publishing company Webedia.

“The deal proves that international companies aren’t afraid to acquire a Lebanese-based or regional company, and I believe more deals will follow, which will encourage financial institutions to invest more in the ICT sector,” Cuvilliez says.

According to a number of reports, Webedia made an investment of $12 to $15 million for a majority equity stake in Diwanee, which was valued around $25 million. As part of the deal, Webedia also injected an additional $5 million in cash into Diwanee.

More important than the cash injection, according to Cuvilliez, is the technological dimension that Webedia is now helping Diwanee with.

“Online publishing is a business with a very large technological dimension, especially when it comes to new advertising techniques such as targeted and real time advertising,” Cuvilliez explains.

“We reached a point that requires us to develop our advertising techniques to be able to compete for advertisers with larger companies in the Middle East. There is no way that we could have made that investment alone on the regional level.”

Diwanee’s most recent round of funding prior to its acquisition by Webedia was a $3.25 million private placement last year by MedSecurities Investment, a BankMed subsidiary.

Diwanee has a predominantly female audience of over 5 million monthly visitors, with a portfolio of sites that includes such subjects as fashion, beauty, entertainment and ecommerce. Webedia attracts over 40 million monthly visitors to sites of the same category.

Diwanee, which has offices in Dubai, Belgrade and Beirut, currently employs around 130 individuals, with the majority of its staff based in Lebanon. Following its acquisition by Webedia, Diwanee hired 15 more employees for its office in Beirut.

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Despite an underdeveloped telecommunication infrastructure compared to its regional peers, Lebanon has managed in the past few years to lay the foundations of a supportive environment for start-ups. Entrepreneurs who a few years back struggled to secure funding to launch their businesses are today more likely to gain the backing of financial institutions, the Daily Star reported.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

DiwaneeDespite an underdeveloped telecommunication infrastructure compared to its regional peers, Lebanon has managed in the past few years to lay the foundations of a supportive environment for start-ups. Entrepreneurs who a few years back struggled to secure funding to launch their businesses are today more likely to gain the backing of financial institutions, the Daily Star reported.

The trend may gain further momentum now that a number of start-ups have managed to scale their operations and attract international buyers, says Herve Cuvilliez, a co-founder of Lebanese-based regional news platform Diwanee.

Diwanee, a digital media company that specializes in content creation targeting women in the Middle East, was recently acquired by French digital publishing company Webedia.

“The deal proves that international companies aren’t afraid to acquire a Lebanese-based or regional company, and I believe more deals will follow, which will encourage financial institutions to invest more in the ICT sector,” Cuvilliez says.

According to a number of reports, Webedia made an investment of $12 to $15 million for a majority equity stake in Diwanee, which was valued around $25 million. As part of the deal, Webedia also injected an additional $5 million in cash into Diwanee.

More important than the cash injection, according to Cuvilliez, is the technological dimension that Webedia is now helping Diwanee with.

“Online publishing is a business with a very large technological dimension, especially when it comes to new advertising techniques such as targeted and real time advertising,” Cuvilliez explains.

“We reached a point that requires us to develop our advertising techniques to be able to compete for advertisers with larger companies in the Middle East. There is no way that we could have made that investment alone on the regional level.”

Diwanee’s most recent round of funding prior to its acquisition by Webedia was a $3.25 million private placement last year by MedSecurities Investment, a BankMed subsidiary.

Diwanee has a predominantly female audience of over 5 million monthly visitors, with a portfolio of sites that includes such subjects as fashion, beauty, entertainment and ecommerce. Webedia attracts over 40 million monthly visitors to sites of the same category.

Diwanee, which has offices in Dubai, Belgrade and Beirut, currently employs around 130 individuals, with the majority of its staff based in Lebanon. Following its acquisition by Webedia, Diwanee hired 15 more employees for its office in Beirut.

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