Israeli entrepreneurship: From Chelsea FC to Daimler Mercedes-Benz
Israel, the start-up nation, where growth is powered by continuing investment from overseas. Israel has created a culture of innovation in the past generation, and much of this comes through necessity. Military issues have forced the land of the Jews consistently to be one step ahead of its neighbours.
The Talpiot Unit is a classic example of this leading edge. Teenage geeks are picked out in their last years of school. They are then drafted into this special intelligence unit where they spend a minimum of three years developing solutions that….well, who knows what they get up to?
And from Talpiot, many find their way into the core of Israel’s high-tech sector or even become entrepreneurs themselves. A typical example of this is Via, which was set up in 2012 by Oren Shuval and Daniel Ramot, yes ex Talpiot servicemen. Via is a direct threat to the Ubers of this world. AS their website encourages you: –
Book a ride and in under a second our algorithms match you with a vehicle going your way. Via makes sharing with other members seamless and is nearly as fast as a taxi.
Via employs over 200 workers, primarily in Israel and in the USA. It has raised serious capital in the past and from some notable names. These include Hearst Ventures and the Russian mogul Roman Abramovich’s Ervington Investments. The latter is the owner of Chelsea Football Club.
Via has just secured an additional US$250 million in funding. The leading investor is Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz Vans unit. Evidently this has major strategic implications.
However, it is important to stress that this is definitely not the only deal in recent times, where large car manufacturers have looked for innovative salvation from the Israeli market. In May 2016, VW bought into Gett Taxi, which was followed a few months later by a move for CyMotive Technologies. This summer, Toyota invested in Autotalks. Ford, Skoda and others also have their stories to tell about Israel.
Following the Arab boycott since 1948 and encouraged by the oil price wars starting in 1973, Israel became the pariah of the car industry. Today the opposite is true. It would be interesting to learn how much these companies lost out by caving into malicious political pressures, never mind what this forced consumers to forgo.