Posted tagged ‘technology’

New Israeli tech on view in Jerusalem

March 15, 2013

The full article can be seen at:


Israel’s hightech gimmick – everybody wants a piece

November 6, 2012

Steve Ballmer, the CEO of Microsoft, was asked yesterday afternoon in Tel Aviv if Israel is a second Silicon Valley. He responded that you cannot replicate the valley, “but the second hottest place for start ups is Tel Aviv….In Israel there is an incredible amount of innovation….”

Ballmer’s visit has been posted all over the local press. He brought Xbox 360 to Israel. He launched a strategic partnership with the government. Ballmer stressed that Israel has “the highest number of Microsoft workers per capita of any place on earth.” And this videolink shows, Microsoft’s r&d centre in Israel is no stranger to entrepreneurship and new technologies, which end up on the global markets.

Ballmer issued a plethora of positive quotes about Israel, which were probably posted straight to twitter. And it is not just that Siemens, IBM, Intel et al also have a large tech presence in Israel.  By the way, last week EMC announced that it did not want to be left out of the picture.

The point is that at any given month, you will discover several Israeli start ups that have just raised more money for some new whizz software or hardware. To take some of this week’s findings, digital marketing software developer Kenshoo Ltd. has secured $12 million. And mobile internet company Saguna Networks Ltd. has raised $3 million in a financing round led by an international communications equipment supplier.

Back in the mid 1980s, Israel began to abandon an economy based on tariffs and the public sector. While elements of centralisation remain, there is no doubt that the Holy Land has witnessed a modern day commercial miracle. The proof of this is by judging how many other countries are now trying to copy the same act.

Portugal has signed a cooperation agreement with Jerusalem over Cleantech. The President of Bulgaria was in Israel last month to set up the groundwork for a similar arrangement.  The Foreign Ministry has launched a joint project with the China Association for Science and Technology. And the UK’s ambassador in Tel Aviv has already promoted several hub initiatives during his stay. In fact one of my clients has been invited to a networking invent tomorrow, hosted by the Brisih embassy.

Does the hightech gimmick work? Israel is set to achieve growth in 2012 and again in 2013 of around 3%. Not many in the OECD can claim such a statistic.

Advances in Israeli tech – September 2012

September 10, 2012

ITEM 1: (There are) “around 600 tech start-ups based in the heart of Tel Aviv, a city of  400,000 people. This compares with the 300 or so young technology companies in the “Silicon Roundabout” area of east London.”

ITEM 2: Guiliano Pasapia, mayor of Milan and currently visiting the Holy Land, has described his hosts as a leader in technology and innovation. He views strengthening cooperation with Israel as something that will help his city towards new prosperity.

ITEM 3: China signs a significant new high tech agreement with Israel this month, specifically to bolster the Shenzhen region.

It is no accident that these pieces of news have come to light in the very week that Microsoft dedicates its latest r&d centre near Tel Aviv. Look at Samsung, which employs around 200 people in Israel, and who have created around 80 patents since 2007. The Galaxy series of phones, one of the world’s best sellers in 2012, contains camera technology developed at their Israeli plant.

Flip over to LG, a smaller outfit in Israel. Its new technology is being used by Better Place, one of the leading pioneers of battery-powered cars. And all of this commerce – as well as their competitors – is using computers with Intel technology, a company that has three large where the previous, current and next round of chips were designed.

There have been concerns that seed capital and foreign direct investment to Israel have been less available in 2012. What is clear is that to date, there are many investors who have received their money back several times over.

Quack technology from Israel

June 1, 2012

Israel has gained a deserved reputation as the “silicon valley of the Middle East”. Just how much Israeli innovation now enters the homes of peoples around the globe is not possible to assess precisely.

That said, the list of commercial breakthroughs reported just this week ensures that with this knowhow, the world is better off. Here are five examples.

Let’s start with a very simple idea; bringing a pop-up educational book for pre-school kids to the TV  screen. Nickelodeon has purchased over 50 episodes of “Quick, Quack, Duck”, conceived by a small team of graphic artists just outside Tel Aviv. It should be no surprise that one of Jerusalem’s largest hightech incubators is new media centric.

Facebook’s pounce for, valued at close to US$100m, has been twittered to bits. What many have missed is that Shutterfly, a leading internet personal publishing service, has acquired Photoccino from Haifa for around US$20m. As the press release notes, the synergy between the companies will allow customers “to more efficiently organize and select the best photos from their ever-increasing archives so they can quickly and easily create photo books, calendars, cards, and photo gifts.”

Richard Branson is never one to miss an opportunity. He is partnering Strauss, arguably Israel’s largest food conglomerate. Together, they intend to sell water purifiers to the domestic market, initially in the UK. This is an environmentally friendly solution for making cups of tea or handing out cold drinks.

And we cannot ignore the cosmetics market. ICG ventures has barely 15 fulltime members of staff, with an HQ in Tel Aviv and offices in Shanghai and in New York. For all that, since starting out in 2005, the company has sold over 5 million units globally of its compact cosmetic units. With annual sales of around US$25m and boasting Sephora as a leading client, many more women are going to benefit from their products over the next few years.

What are Microsoft, Intel et al doing in Israel?

April 10, 2012

Last month, bloggers noted that Intel had declared its intentions to build a hightech empire in Israel. “Today Intel Israel is at the core of the global company, with a central role in developing new products like Sandy Bridge and the Ivy Bridge,” observes the firm’s Israeli chief, Maxine Fassberg. Bottom line; after the U.S., China, India, its Israel. Intel invests more in Israel than in Europe.

Not bad for a country the size of Wales with under 8m people and surrounded by geopolitical uncertainty. But is Intel the proverbial exception that proves the rule?

Enter Microsoft:

Microsoft is launching the first startup accelerator* in the company’s history in an effort to encourage more entrepreneurs to build their cloud-based applications using Windows Azure. The program will take place at the Microsoft Israel Research and Development Center, and is a part of the Israel R&D Center’s outreach program Think Next as well as the Microsoft BizSpark program for startups.

Zack Weisfeld, Sr. Director of Strategy and Business Development at Microsoft’s Israel Development Center gave a very simple explanation for his company’s high profile in the Jerusalem and two other locations. There are 4,900 startups and it has the third largest V.C. spending in the world after Silicon Valley and New England. No brainer.

Siemens, GE, GM, IBM and more have all secured a large r&d presence, many concentrated north of Tel Aviv. Broadcom takes a slightly different approach. It has strategic policy of buying successful Israeli start ups. Of the ten purchases, six were snapped up since December 2009. The estimated total investment value  is around US$1.6 billion, and it appears safe to assume that more is on the way.

Shlomo Markel, Broadcom’s VP who handles the company’s M&A operations, is very clear about what motivates their acquisitions. Wealth creation is the name of the game – either extra profits or the opportunity for an exit. Either way, Markel is looking to up the company’s share value.

As someone coined the phrase; modern day commercial miracles in the Holy Land.

Explaining tech to an “ignorant” investor

March 30, 2012

Chat with any entrepreneur, just as they are about to launch into an explanation of their whiz technology, and you will get the same response. “I will just take ten minutes to explain the basics of my revolutionary tech, which I invented whilst studying for my doctorate. I will refer to only 10 long words that do not appear in the Oxford English Dictionary.”

To the dumb investor, the story ends up sounding like goobledygook. English? The presenter might have used Vietnamese.

But is that person, who is holding on to the money, really that dumb? Just because he or she does not understand turbines or internet connections or chemicals, remember that they often possess another asset. Their speciality is to spot a product or service, suitable for commercialisation, and a team that can support that drive. 

However, if the entrepreneur retains the language of a university textbook (from east Asia), their investor will cut the conversation short and return to playing poker on his iPhone. So how to avoid the trap?

A recent blog by from 3Sixty tackled this very point. Their three-point approach can be summed up as: –

Think of your data or technical information as a blank canvas. You need to paint a slightly different painting for each audience. You need to ensure that it’s relevant to each audience and that you answer the question – why is this audience interested in this information, what does it mean to them and what do I want them to do as a result of experiencing this presentation.

Simple? I am not so sure. I have seen some clients adjust rapidly, while others repeatedly prefer to whip out their 30 slide presentation at any opportunity, which is often inappropriate.

One techy, who was supreme at “dummying-it-down” was the late Steve Jobs. His biographer, Walter Isaacson, argues that:

…. the real lessons from Steve Jobs have to be drawn from looking at what he actually accomplished. ……. (Jobs) said it was Apple the company. Making an enduring company, he said, was both far harder and more important than making a great product. How did he do it?

Well, Isaacson gives a detailed response to hiw own question. And I will add one further consideration. Surely, one aspect has to be that Jobs made his products appealing and obvious to even the greatest of non-techies, including this writer.

Israeli apps and the global market

February 14, 2012

I recently met up with a former client. In a two room office in central Jerusalem, his team develops apps for smartphones etc. His order book is full to the extent that he does not have time to answer all his incoming mails.

How successful are Israeli apps in the commercial market place? Just by considering four press releases from the past few days, the answer must verge towards the very positive.

Take Android app developer Pops Ltd., who has raised just $1.5 million to personalize incoming message alerts, on the mobile phones, Facebook, e-mail, WhatsApp, etc. With under ten people on its payroll, this start up has managed to attract the attention of Mangrove Capital, one of Europe’s premier vc groupings.

FootTraffic offers advertisers a performance marketing platform for location-based offers. In other words, this is not just another attempt to reach potential customers via their mobiles. Payment is only deducted if a sale is concluded. That is one large rung up on the sophistication ladder.

The slogan of CallmyName is ” a world without phone numbers”. A relative veteran in the industry – founded in 2007 – and one of the dozens of Israeli companies featuring at Barcelona 2012, CallmyName offers a complete package for dialling via names. Deals are now in place to take this offer into the UK, Germany, Singapore and elsewhere. All this is supported by a recent investment package valued at US$6.0 million from an overseas outfit.

Last but by now means least is Viber 1. Within 13 months of launch, it has supplied one billion minutes of free phone calls for smartphone owners in over one hundred countries. 54 million individual users and growing rapidly. Now that is an amazing achievement.