|Type of business||Public company|
Type of site
|Traded as||TASE: WALA|
|Headquarters||166 IBN Gvirol St., Tel Aviv, Israel|
|Key people||Avraham Gabai (Chairman)|
Gadi Hadar (Founder)
Erez Pilosof (Founder)
Gadi Hadar (Founder)
Ido Eshed (CEO)
|Net income||₪132 Million (FY 2009)|
|Users||2.5 Million active users|
Walla! Communications Ltd. (Hebrew: וואלה! תקשורת בע"מ) is an Israeli internet company headquartered in Tel Aviv and is fully owned by Bezeq. Walla!'s web portal provides news, search (powered by Google Search) and e-mail, among other things. It is also one of the first Israeli internet portals, and is considered one of the most popular web sites in the country. As of October 2016[update], Alexa rankings put it in the top 9 sites by traffic originating in Israel. Its online news outlet Walla! News is one of the major Israeli news websites.
The outlet has been accused of biased media reporting in favour of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Employees of the company have been summoned as witnesses in Case 4000, one of the corruption trials involving Netanyahu.
The portal was founded by Erez Pilosof and Gadi Hadar in 1995 as Israel's first online website directory, and soon afterwards acquired by "Mashov Computers Marketing", a member of The Mashov Group headed by Yaki Dunietz and David Assia. In 1998, the company, traded on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, changed its name to "Walla! Communications Ltd". In the same year, the company was acquired by Formula Systems, headed by Dan Goldstein, and in 2001 it merged with IOL, a similar site run by the Haaretz Group.
Walla! provides news from Israel and around the world, 24 hours a day. Most news stories that appear in Walla! came from the Haaretz Group, news agencies and other content providers. However, during the year 2006, Walla! started building an independent news and editorial staff, which produces original news stories and special features. In addition, Walla! produces original content in various fields such as sports, cinema, music, fashion and food. The website offers many programs and services, a search engine, E-mail, online shops, chats, and video on demand.
- Walla!News – Breaking news and analysis from Israel and around the world, 24 hours a day
- Walla!Mail – A free email service offering unlimited storage space
- Walla!Shops – An online shopping network and part of the Bezeq group, designed for purchasing different products and services online. The site provides trading categories such as in electricity products, smartphones and mobile phones, furniture and fashion. E-commerce in Israel for 2012 was estimated by Google Israel as totaling a minor figure of $1 billion.
- Walla!Music – On demand music as well as the option to listen to various radio stations live
- Walla!Cellular – Downloads for mobile phones
- Walla!pedia – In 2005 Walla made use of the GFDL copyright license on which Wikipedia runs and copied the entire Hebrew Wikipedia's database. Walla! displays the articles under the headline Walla!pedia, but mentions that the articles originated from Wikipedia. Unlike Wikipedia, the users cannot edit the articles and the former versions and history of the articles are not shown.
- Yad2 – classifieds with listings for cars, apartments, items for sale, services and more.
Controversy over ties to Netanyahu family
In December 2020, Bezeq owner Shaul Elovitch, his son and former Bezeq director Or Elovitch; former secretary Linor Yochelman, the former CEO of Yes, Bezeq’s satellite TV subsidiary, Ron Eilon and former Yes CFO Mickey Naiman were indicted on charges of fraud, breach of trust, receiving illicit gifts and violations of the Securities Law. A substantial portion of the charges also concerned Walla! 's alleged favoritism towards Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Former Bezeq CEO Stella Handler wasn't indicted after agreeing to cooperate with prosecutors. On April 5, 2021, former Walla! CEO Ilan Yeshua, testified that Shaul Elovitch ordered him to not report negative stories about Netanyahu. Yashua also testified that Shaul ordered him to also attack Netanyahu's political rivals and post stories favorable about the Israeli Prime Minister as well. On April 12, 2021, Yeshua told the Jerusalem District Court that Netanyahu was the “big guy” who persuaded Walla! to publish only parts of an interview he conducted with journalist Dov Gilhar a week before the March 2021 Israeli election and that "any negative item led to outburst" from the Israeli Prime Minister. Yeshua also revealed a February 2015 text message which Shaul Elovitch sent to him in February 2015. In the text message, Elovitch stated that he had a problematic meeting with Netanyahu, who he referred to as "the big one."
On 20 April 2021, Yeshua detailed more instances where Netanyahu showed authority over the editorials at Walla!, such as telling Elovitch to take down a news story which appeared on Walla! about a romantic relationship between Netanyahu's son Yair and a non-Jewish Norwegian woman and also his requests for using the news site as a way to spread attacks on Naftali Bennett and his wife Gilat. On May 4, 2021, Yeshua stated that the Israeli Prime Minister also got Walla! to remove stories about "bereaved" families of Israeli soldiers who were killed during the 2014 Gaza War and whose remains were still held by the Hamas. One notable family was the family of Hadar Goldin, an IDF soldier whose remains have been held by the Hamas in Gaza since the 2016 war. He did not clarify who told the editors to erase these stories. However, he also noted how the Prime Minister's wife Sara Netanyahu also had influence at Walla! and how Netanyahu associate Zeev Rubinstein, who he described as the “their senior officer in the Byzantine court,” was used to carry out Sara's “crazy requests and angles."
- "walla.co.il". Alexa. 2013. Retrieved 2013-08-20.
- Gross, Judah. "Walla editor says he was constantly pushed to change coverage of Netanyahu and rivals". Times of Israel. Retrieved 5 April 2021.
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- "Israel: Great at Making Startups, Terrible at E-commerce". Haaretz. 2013.
- Bachner, Michael (December 23, 2020). "Bezeq ex-owner Elovitch indicted in case that led to probe against Netanyahu". The Times of Israel. Retrieved April 13, 2021.
- "Netanyahu trial: Editor 'told to drop negative stories about Israel PM'". BBC News. 5 April 2021. Retrieved 13 April 2021.
- "At trial, Yeshua says Netanyahu was allowed to edit own interview to his liking". Times of Israel. April 12, 2021. Retrieved April 13, 2021.
- "Elovitch to Yeshua: I have problems all day with the PM". Jerusalem Post. April 12, 2021. Retrieved April 13, 2021.
- "Walla CEO told to scrap article on PM son's non-Jewish girlfriend 'at any cost'".
- Netanyahu’s lawyers begin cross-examining key witness in premier’s graft trial Times of Israel, May 4, 2021