Afternoon Tea in Jerusalem Blog

Life in Israel

Israeli commercial life and society

In addition to my work as a business coach, one of my interests is blogging about life in Israel. This is a country full of contrasts – over eight million citizens living in an area the size of Wales. You can see snow and the lowest place on the globe in the same day. Although surrounded by geopolitical extremes, Israel has achieved a decade of high economic growth. My work brings me in contact with an array of new companies, exciting technologies and dynamic characters. Sitting back with a relaxing cup of strong tea (with milk), you realise just how much there is to appreciate in the Holyland. Large or small operations, private sector or non profit, my clients provide experiences from which others can learn and benefit.


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1 decade, 772 exits, 8 million people

Earlier this week, I referred to a survey of Israel’s VC industry for the past decade, as reported in the Hebrew newspaper “Calcalist”. When you consider that you are dealing with a society of barely 8 million people, surrounded by geopolitical issues that have befuddled world diplomats for nearly a century, few natural raw materials (until recently) and an economy that in 1986 went in to ‘shutdown’ mode, the statistics below become even more impressive.

So how has Israel. affectionately known as the start-up nation, fared over the past decade in terms of spinning off its success?

1) There have been 772 known exists in the high-tech sector, which have a combined value of US$41.6 billion.

2) 200 of these deals had a net worth of over US$200 million each.

3) Two deals are of particular note: In 2006, HP purchased Mercury for US$4.5 billion. Last year, Cisco took over NDS for a cool US$5 billion.

4) Of the 772 exists: 233 involved software companies and 185 related to the communications industry. The bio sector clocked up 117 ownesip transfers, but cleantech measured a mere 24.

5) In terms of value, US$12.9 billion went to the software companies and US$10.2 billion to telecom.

6) The average length of period to an exist is just over eight years, a figure which varies from sector to sector. For example, bio companies generally only see a buy out towards the end of their second decade.

The survey records the names of individual successful serial entrepreneurs, such as Yair Goldfinger and Lior Tal. I did not see a mention of how much money remained in Israel nor how many jobs were lost after the sell-offs were completed. And yes, I wonder how much money ended up with the ordinary employee.

What I would have beena fascinating exercise is an assessment of by how much this wave of success has raised Israel’s GDP and the net impact it has had on the economy as a whole. Let’s face it; something has to explain Israel’s ability to maintain 3% growth in 2012, as opposed to the strugglers like Greece, Spain, Cyprus or even Britain.

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