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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Backing Israeli hightech

In a week which saw considerable political instability in Jerusalem and Israel’s largest company, Teva, lose 20% of its share value, the international commercial community still saw fit to back the country’s high-tech sector, and in no uncertain terms.

Neuroderm was founded in 2003 and is located in the heart of Israel’s biotech industry in Rehovot, south of Tel Aviv. It develops treatments for Parkinson’s Disease. And it caught the eye of investors , when it announced a cash take over by Japan’s Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corp for nearly US$1.1 billion.

What is amazing is that much of the previous investment also came from external investors. That is to say, according to Neuroderm’s CEO, Dr. Oded Lieberman, with a few minor exceptions, local VCs ignored his approaches for years. As they say, look who is smiling now.

Also licking their lips are the founders of Plarium, a social gaming platform. The company, founded in 2009 and today employing 1,200 people, has been purchased by Aristocrat for US$500 million. They are based in Australia and the largest manufacturer of gambling machines. Significantly, the deal could be worth an extra US$200 ,illion dpeneding on future sales’ growth.

These are no isolated exits. Two weeks ago, six Israeli start-ups, including SimilarWeb, Iguazio and PermimeterX, announced on the same day that they had raised a combined US$142. “EMK Capital LLP announced that it has agreed to acquire a majority shareholding in Luminati, the enterprise proxy network division of Hola Networks, at an enterprise value of $200m.” And in a separate move, “US shared workspace company WeWork has acquired Israeli B2B sales and market intelligence developer Unomy.”

You have to wonder. If Israel was managed better – better politicians and better strategists in some of her larger companies – just how much more well off would the country be? In other words, how much is the country missing out because of ineffective leadership at the top?

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