July 23, 2017 | The Blackstone Investment Fund is in negotiations to acquire 40 percent of Israeli mobile surveillance company NSO Group for $400 million, which would put NSO’s valuation at $1 billion, acoording to a Calcalist report. NSO’s spokesman Zamir Dahbash tells NoCamels that the company can’t confirm the story. Founded in 2009 by Omri Lavi, Niv Carmi, and Shilo Julio, NSO is known for developing the “Pegasus” malware programs that were said to be responsible for a sophisticated smartphone attack against UAE human rights activist Ahmed Mansoor. It has raised $1.6 million in seed funding. Blackstone (along with the Clear Sky Fund, which will acquire 10 percent of NSO) will purchase the shares from Francisco Partners, who acquired the startup in 2014 for $130 million.