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Sunday, November 3, 2013

WSJ ‘star-struck’ by Israeli tech scene


Within tiny country, UK tech envoy tells leading US financial daily, ‘you have every major sector and subsector of the technology industry.’ Recent acquisitions of Israeli companies show nation’s lure hasn’t tarnished, newspaper states

Even when you know you’re good, it’s always fun getting compliments. And so it was nice to read the unusual praise showered on Israeli high-tech by the Wall Street Journal, probably the world’s most important financial newspaper.
“Try as you might,” begins the article published under a picture of a flag of Israel, “it is extremely hard not to be a bit star-struck by the Israeli technology scene. Just when you think you have seen everything, along comes something even more impressive, such as a startup with a nanotechnology that has the potential to disrupt everything from batteries to display screens to semiconductors.”
The writer is award-winning journalist Ben Rooney, who covers technology, entrepreneurship and innovation for the Wall Street Journal Europe, from Israel in the south to Scandinavia in the north, from Ireland in the west to Russia in the East.
Rooney, who had a long career in the British Daily Telegraph and was the launch editor of its website, appears on television and in conferences and recently visited Israel.
In his article, Rooney wonders what is next for the startup nation, noting that it is the scale of Israeli ambition that other startup ecosystems outside the US seem incapable of matching.
“It is Silicon Valley for the rest of the world,” he quotes Saul Klein, a London-based venture capitalist and recently appointed a UK tech envoy to Israel, as saying.
Another quote is from Mark Tluszcz, co-founder and chief executive of Mangrove Capital Partners SA, a Luxembourg-based venture firm that has been investing in Israeli startups since 2007: “On a scale of one to 10, the innovation I see in, say, Germany would be close to zero. In Israel, it is a 10.”
“What’s the secret?” the newspaper asks. “Reasons include the role of the Israeli Defense Forces, and in particular the high-tech Unit 8200; the unique cultural values of a country forged from centuries of oppression; and Jewish mothers.”
Yossi Vardi, introduced as “the larger-than-life so-called father of the Israeli tech scene,” favors that last theory. “From birth,” he says, “your mother will tell you that you have to succeed, that you have to be better than your cousin, or her friend’s son, or whoever.”