More than beaches: Tech-Tourism in Israel

More than beaches: Tech-Tourism in Israel

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Israel is well known for many things: the beaches, the deep historic roots, the holiness to all major religions, but over the past decade, it has slowly transitioned into a hub in which technology visionaries base their activity

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By Hillel Fuld

Many years ago, I had a crazy once in a lifetime opportunity to interview one of the top venture capitalists in the world and someone who is widely considered to be the man who invented the modern web browser, Marc Andreessen. You can read the whole interview here.

There is one question there that might jump out at you as being different than the rest. I asked Marc when we can see more activity from him and his firm in Israel? His answer was a major scoop. “If we ever break our one office rule, it’s pretty likely office #2 would be in Israel”. You see, Marc’s firm, Andreessen Horowitz has a hard one office rule. They have one office, in Menlo Park, Silicon Valley. No NY office, no LA office, no London office. And when they break that rule, where will the world’s leading VC open an office? In a country smaller than New Jersey in the most unstable region on planet earth.

High Tech in Israel

Israel as a Startup Nation

Here is the thing though, Marc is not alone. In fact, you would have a hard time finding a top tier tech investor that does not have a presence in Israel. Not only are they here, but they are all active here deploying capital into Israeli companies. But it doesn’t stop with the investors.

Just like you would have a hard time finding a top tier investor that is not in Israel, the same is true for the top tech multinationals. Not only are they all in Israel, but they are also building out massive research and development centers, establishing innovation hubs, and heavily recruiting Israeli engineers. Meaning, they are not only present in Israel, they are very active.

High Tech in Beersheba. Photo by Udi Goren

High Tech Park Bridge in Beersheba. Photo by Udi Goren

This is true for Microsoft, it is true for Apple, Facebook, Google, Intel, IBM, Oracle, and Amazon. All of these High Tech companies are in Israel and everyone is expanding their activity in this tiny little country.
As a result of all of this and more, Israel has become the go-to destination for tech delegations to learn about corporate innovation and how tech is changing every aspect of our personal and professional lives.

High Tech in Tel Aviv

Tel aviv’s skyline

If I were to examine the last 7 days alone and the companies that have sent over their executives to learn about Israel and all the innovation the country is producing, the list is long. Porsche executives, Google executives, Johnson and Johnson executives, to name a few. I know this because I am asked to address these delegations at least once a week and without exception, the people I meet from the world’s leading companies, leave the event floored and shocked by how this tiny country has become a world-leading technology empire pretty much across all sectors of innovation.

High Tech in Herzliya. Photo by Lior Avitan

Herzlyia port – Sea view from some startups’ offices. Photo by Lior Avitan

In fact, the question I get most regarding Israeli tech is “How?” How did this happen despite all the challenges the country faces? The answer is of course a complicated one but it includes the famous Israeli chutzpah as well as the mandatory military service as some of the many explanations I give these execs. Other components that contribute to Israel’s technology prowess is the support entrepreneurs receive from the government such as the Innovation Authority, plus the Israeli culture of “There is no such thing as ‘I can’t’, there is only ‘I don’t want to.’

High Tech in Tel Aviv

The beaches are beautiful, but there’s so much more

I can tell you first hand that every single week without exception, I personally receive 5-10 requests from investors, entrepreneurs, and tech execs to show them around the famous Israeli tech scene. “I want to see Waze, I want to see Wix, IronSource, SimilarWeb, Appsflyer, Powtoon, and while we’re at it, I would love to visit Facebook Tel Aviv.”

Israel is well known for many things. The beaches, the deep historic roots, the holiness to all major religions, but over the past decade, it has slowly transitioned into the place technology visionaries and pioneers look to for inspiration on how they can single handily change the world.

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