Afternoon Tea in Jerusalem Blog

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.

Freezing cold in late January in Jerusalem. The threat of snow is in the air. And nearly 50 of the world’s biggest leaders have descended on the city in order to honour the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz Concentration Camp.

As traffic snarls up to ensure clear passage for the celebs, all around them a major economic transformation is in process. The Jerusalem economy is emerging from its slumbers, previously branded as a city for religious tourists – Jewish or otherwise – and civil servants. Jerusalem is moving towards Palo Alto, so to speak.

Mobileye may be a one-off story, the proverbial commercial unicorn rising out of the holy city, but it does represent the start of something new. It was purchased for over US$15 billion dollars by Intel. It had planned a 30 floor high HQ in Jerusalem.  It has since decided “to amend the NIS 950 million ($274 million) plan for a more modest group of five buildings, each nine stories high…”

About five kilometers away are the offices of Our Crowd. Their rapid rise to success as arguably the most successful global investment crowd funding platform has ironically paralleled the rise to fame of Mobileye. Next month, they will hold their annual event in Jerusalem.

Their press release today points out that: –

OurCrowd reports that 32 of the startups presenting at the past four summits had an exit or IPO within 12 months. The 2019 OurCrowd Summit featured 7 startups that later exited, including:

Beyond Meat: Biggest IPO in a decade, May 2019
Magisto: Acquired by Vimeo for $100 million, April 2019
Wave: acquired in June 2019 by H&R Block
Prior years’ Summit featured many startups that later exited, including:

Jump Bikes 2018, acquired by Uber two months later
Briefcam 2018, acquired by Canon six months later
Invertex 2017, acquired by Nike three months later
Mobileye 2017, acquired by Intel for $15.3 billion two months later
Crosswise 2016, acquired by Oracle three months later
Replay 2016, acquired by Intel two months later

Oded Barel of the Jerusalem Development Authority has also listed some of the investment highlights of 2019, featuring local corporates on the go. For example:

  • 🦄 Lightricks raised $135M and became a unicorn. If that wasn’t enough, it also won both Apple’s and Google’s best app of 2019 awards.
  • 👁️ Orcam’s MyEye has been selected as one of Time Magazine’s best innovations.
  • 🏡 Hometalk raised $15M to expand their DIY content platform.
    🧠 CNVRG raised $8M to expand to NYC and help enterprises adopt machine-learning.
  • 🚗 C2A raised $6.5M to develop its end-to-end cybersecurity platform for cars.
  • 🏥 Pepticom raised $5M to accelerate drug-discovery using AI.
  • 🍣 Bitemojo won the UNWTO global competition for gastronomy tourism startups.
  • 👋 Mellanox, Via, Taboola and Vayyar have all announced they are opening R&D activity in Jerusalem. Welcome, fellas.

Gathering together stats from various reports, there are around 41,000 business enterprises in Jerusalem. Nearly 4,000 new ones opened up in 2018, although a further 3,000 closed down. Interestingly, both this rate of growth and the relatively low turnover is better than the national average. One reason for this is clearly the strong presence of NPOs like MATI, which promotes Biz Dev amongst some of the weaker parts of the local community.

What next? Ask the 50 world leaders visiting us this week. They may have been here to discuss the Holocaust. I can assure that business and trade were also close to the top of the private agendas.


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