Archive for June 2009

Ray Ozzie in Tel Aviv

June 30, 2009

You want to know why Microsoft has a large r&d arm in Israel? Ask Ray Ozzie, Microsoft’s Chief Software Architect.

Ozzie is in Israel to attend the “Think Next” annual conference. 23 start ups parading their talents and hopes in front of the industry’s finest. As Ozzie was quoted back in Hebrew: –

There are some wonderful technologies here, which makes you want to find out more about them.

Mere words? As Ozzie was quizzing the latest group of Israeli entrepreneurs, I was visiting a company a few miles down the road. Its technology has the capacity to compress data on a computer by 50%. The ROI per work station can be measured, reaching thousands of dollars in a few years.

Tel Aviv Stock Market

June 29, 2009

Tel Aviv’s stock market continues to perform well. Yesterday, Sunday, saw another 2% jump. That confirms that the market has clawed back over 30% of its value since the beginning of 2009.

The latest catalyst was a positive report on the TASE from Barclays UK.

In fact, there are a series of sound fundamentals why the local market is so intriguing. For an in depth analysis, I offer this clip from the CNBC website.

Free speech 2: Tehran or Jerusalem

June 27, 2009

Yesterday, I commented about the freedom to protest on the streets of Jerusalem.

I have just received a translation of an article, posted in the Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv from 22nd June. The authors pose a simple question: Six months ago, many commentators around the world were demanding that Israel be sanctioned over its actions in Gaza. Today, re Iran, those same voices are silent.

It is not the shame that stinks. Nor even the hypocrisy. These people originally spoke out in the name of human rights. Clearly, that was a lie, an abuse of the phrase for ulterior motives. Their true interest was the denigration of Israel, the one true democracy in the Middle East.

Below is a copy of the translation, as I received it:

Where is Everyone? 

Ma’ariv (Monday, June 22, 09) by Ben Caspit and Ben-Dror Yemini (opinion) –

 

Tell us, where is everyone?  Where did all the people who demonstrated against Israel’s brutality in Operation Cast Lead, in the Second Lebanon War, in Operation Defensive Shield, or even in The Hague, when we were dragged there unwillingly after daring to build a separation barrier between us and the suicide bombers, disappear to?  We see demonstrations here and there, but these are mainly Iranian exiles.  Europe, in principle, is peaceful and calm.  So is the United States. Here and there a few dozens, here and there a few hundreds.  Have they evaporated because it is Tehran and not here?

   

All the peace-loving and justice-loving Europeans, British professors in search of freedom and equality, the friends filling the newspapers, magazines and various academic journals with various demands for boycotting Israel, defaming Zionism and blaming us and it for all the ills and woes of the world—could it be that they have taken a long summer vacation?

 

Now of all times, when the Basij hooligans have begun to slaughter innocent civilians in the city squares of Tehran?  Aren’t they connected to the Internet?  Don’t they have YouTube?  Has a terrible virus struck down their computer?  Have their justice glands been removed in a complicated surgical procedure (to be re-implanted successfully for the next confrontation in Gaza)?  How can it be that when a Jew kills a Muslim, the entire world boils, and when extremist Islam slaughters its citizens, whose sole sin is the aspiration to freedom, the world is silent?

   

Imagine that this were not happening now in Tehran, but rather here. Let’s say in Nablus.  Spontaneous demonstrations of Palestinians turning into an ongoing bloodbath.  Border Policemen armed with knives, on motorcycles, butchering demonstrators.  A young woman downed by a sniper in midday, dying before the cameras.  Actually, why imagine?  We can just recall what happened with the child Mohammed a-Dura.  How the affair (which was very harsh, admittedly) swept the world from one end to another.  The fact that a later independent investigative report raised tough questions as to the identity of the weapon from which a-Dura was shot, did not make a difference to anyone.  The Zionists were to blame, and that was that.

   

And where are the world’s leaders?  Where is the wondrous rhetorical ability of Barack Obama?  Where has his sublime vocabulary gone?  Where is the desire, that is supposed to be built into all American presidents, to defend and act on behalf of freedom seekers around the globe?  What is this stammering?

   

A source who is connected to the Iranian and security situation, said yesterday that if Obama had shown on the Iranian matter a quarter of the determination with which he assaulted the settlements in the territories, everything would have looked different.  “The demonstrators in Iran are desperate for help,” said the man, who served in very senior positions for many years, “they need to know that they have backing, that there is an entire world that supports them, but instead they see indifference.  And this is happening at such a critical stage of this battle for the soul of Iran and the freedom of the Iranian people.  It’s sad.”

   

Or the European Union, for example. The organization that speaks of justice and peace all year round.  Why should its leaders not declare clearly that the world wants to see a democratic and free Iran, and support it unreservedly?  Could it be20that the tongue of too many Europeans is still connected to dark places?  The pathetic excuse that such support would give Khamenei and Ahmadinejad an excuse to call the demonstrators “Western agents,” does not hold water.  They call them “Western agents” in any case, so what difference does it make?

   

To think that just six months ago, when Europe was flooded with demonstrations against Israel, leftists and Islamists raised pictures of Nasrallah, the protégé of the ayatollah regime.  The fact that this was a benighted regime did not trouble them.  This is madness, but it is sinking in and influencing the weary West.  If there is a truly free world here, let it appear immediately!  And impose sanctions, for example, on those who slaughter the members of their own people.  Just as it imposed them on North Korea, or on the military regime in Burma.  It is only a question of will, not of ability.

   

Apparently, something happens to the global adherence to justice and equality, when it comes to Iran.  The oppression is overt and known.  The Internet era broadcasts everything live, and it is all for the better.  Hooligans acting on behalf of the regime shoot and stab masses of demonstrators, who cry out for freedom.

   

Is anything more needed?  Apparently it is.  Because it is to no avail.  The West remains indifferent.  Obama is polite.  Why shouldn’t he be, after all, he aspires to a dialogue with the ayatollahs.  And that is very fine and good, the problem is that at this stage there is no dialogue, but there is death and murder on the streets.  At this stage, one must forget the rules of etiquette for a moment.  The voices being heard from Obama elicit concern that we are actually dealing with a new version of Chamberlain.

   

Being conciliatory is a positive trait, particularly when it follows the clumsy bellicosity of George Bush, but when conciliation becomes blindness, we have a problem.

   

The courageous voice of Angela Merkel, who issued yesterday a firm statement of support for the Iranian people and its right to freedom, is in the meantime a lone voice in the Western wilderness.  It is only a shame that she has not announced an economic boycott, in light of the fact that this is the European country that is most invested in building infrastructure in Iran.  She was joined by British Foreign Secretary Miliband.  It is little, it is late, it is not enough.  Millions of freedom seekers have taken to the streets in Iran, and the West is straddling the fence, one leg here, the other leg there.

   

There is a different Islam.  This is already clear today.  Even in Iran.  There are millions of Muslims who support freedom, human rights, equality for women.  These millions loathe Khamenei, Chavez and Nasrallah too.  But part of the global left wing prefers the ayatollah regime over them.  The main thing is for them to raise flags against Israel and America.  The question is why the democrats, the liberals, and Obama, Blair and Sarkozy, are continuing to sit on the fence.  This is not a fence of separation, it is a fence of shame. 

Jerusalem – free speech

June 26, 2009

Visit Jerusalem and you come to a city where you walk on history.

In the Old City, you can wander back thousands of years. In the newer parts of the city, geopolitics storms out at you from every corner. And in any one of the main streets, you can find people of several religions streaming towards you.

Sit in your internet cafe and complain about the Israeli political system, well you will be typing away with no fear that a policeman is looking over your shoulder with a baton, as in Iran.

This week, Jerusalem has proved that it is more than just a centre to the 3 main religions. Yesterday, Thursday, a gay parade took place. Yes, it did anger leaders of all religions. Yet I went into the night life area, later in the evening. The atmosphere was definitely one of fun and good will.

Today, the ultra orthodox will protest the opening of a car park on the Sabbath. I have many reservations about their aims and methods, however they will be protesting when most others in the Middle East can only dream of the opportunity.

Opposite these devout Jews will be standing a group of youths, dressed in jeans and tanktops, demanding greater pluralism.

Free speech – in Jerusalem or in Israel per se – is a precious gift. It must be protected, and not abused. When people complain about Israel and its so-called treatment of Palestinians, they rarely apply the same principles in reverse. Amnesty International feels that Israel should release political prisoners, but its silence over the abuse of Gilad Shalit is reprehensible.

Here, the choice of silence is as unacceptable as repression of free speech.

It’s a cauldron, but Jerusalem is a great place to live, because her freedom is available to all – for all to respect its precious status.

My clients want to control production and the market. Right or wrong?

June 25, 2009

Three new opportunities have come my way this month.

After some social networking, I spoke to Jonathan Keren-Black, an engineer resident in Australia and co-alumni of Brunel University. He has developed, manufactures and sells a simple household device, which collects and purifies rainwater. Megamarket in Aussieland and elsewhere.

The initial inquiry was to see if I could seek alternative manufacturing resources. The current remit is to outsource the production and distribution rights. This will allow Jonathan to have an earlier and stronger revenue stream. He will also have more time to devote to his next entrepreneurial project.

Moving on, I met with the owners of a new company in southern Israel. Their single product has begun to hit the shops overseas. The discussion with my colleague and I quickly branched away from sales channels. We discussed production strategies, as well as management direction.

A third Israeli concern is already selling a string of products, partially manufactured overseas. Within four years, they have found themselves located in severa; unique but linked markets.

All these companies are relatively young. All possess a strong IP, the main asset to the company, along with a management of solid experience. All are caught up with a series of “growing pains”, which many young companies face, including how to manage logistics.

And now for the difference. It is Jonathan, who probably has been least involved in commercial matters over the yearscomparatively speaking. It is he, who has worked exactly what he wants to be doing next.

Jonathan has realised that the route to his pot of gold is not by controlling the whole of the supply chain. He will be happy, when he off loads the routine issues. His long term profit may be less, but he will be happy, and successful, able to engage next in whatever he loves best.

The others will succeed as well. They will learn to manage their limited resources, but the process will take that much longer.

It is not a case of right or wrong. These case studies show that a CEO must comprehend that the game plan of resources is comprehensive ; how to manage the finances, to apply human capital, to detect market opportunites etc against time. If “no can do” is even a partial response, then learn how to take your cut in another manner, like Jonathan.

Israel’s positive economic news

June 25, 2009

I wrote earlier this week about a string of anecdotal evidence, which points to Israel starting to emerge from the recession. 

Today’s front page of the Globes financial newspaper confirms these findings. There is a series of positive headlines. For example: –

  • The investment house Barclays Capital has raised its rating of the Israeli banking sector.
  • The Israeli Treasury is enacting legislation to allow overseas mutual funds to trade locally, which will lead to greater competition in the financial markets.
  • Israel’s pharmaceutical industry, a major player in the local hightech sector, is continuing to show strong export sales and few layoffs.

Is everything rosy? The OECD warns that true national growth will only be seen in 2010. Encouragingly: –

The report says that the recession in Israel is at its height, due to high exposure to global trade. However, the damage is limited, by only small difficulties in the Israeli financial system and by the lack of a real estate prices bubble in Israel. ……….The OECD also emphasizes that Israel must be adamant on cutting the budget deficit, saying, “In the short term fiscal discipline seems reasonably assured, but less so in the medium term.”

Israel beyond the recession?

June 22, 2009

BBC? CNN? Sky? They are all asking if the world is emerging from a recession. Every little new detail is analysed. Today, the UK announced a significant fall in the predicted number of house repossessions, and thus…..

The cruel fact is that officially nobody can say where the economy is at, until formal stats are released looking back over six months.

Israel being Israel, people do not hang around, waiting for announcements. In fact, despite the rise in unemployment way over 7%, there is a large amount of anecdotal evidence to suggest that our economy is commencing an upswing.

Here’s what I mean.

  • I am trying to book  a week’s holiday in August in the north of the country. Many popular hotels are full.
  • Today, I spoke with my insurance agent, who specialises in policies for the family and small practices. While this a sector liable to cut back in a recession, he is enjoying a boom period.
  • Similarly, a client, specialising in internet research, has recorded a string of new projects since the beginning of the summer.
  • And today’s newspapers are full of reports about how house prices have been rising as far back as January 2009.

It is early days yet. This week, the Bank of Israel kept the interest rate at 0.5%, but it will not be long before that moves upwards. That is the kind of change, which results from officialdom not wanting the economy to overheat. Boy, it will be great to worry about too much growth!