Archive by Author - Jeff Saperstein

Tel Aviv and Jerusalem

by on April 17, 2008 at 12:00 pm

I have been coming to Israel since 1970 and most of us who are Vatik (veteran) Israel visitors are well aware of the Tel Aviv/Jerusalem divide within Israel. In a sense each represents a different vision of the values of the State of Israel?kind of like how we environmentally aware/self-actualizing selves in Northern California view our water-wasting, materialistic brethren in Southern California :-).

Tel Aviv is a secular, Western, fashionable urban center striving to be hip, cool, thoroughly modern and global. Jerusalem is a religious matrix for Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. It is a magnet for tourists who seek spiritual connection. Yet, the city’s citizens, both Arab and Ultra- Orthodox, are becoming poorer, more strife-riven, and divided.

My experience this visit in Tel Aviv, where we have spent most of our time, has been very positive. Going through the historic neighborhoods of Neve Zedek and Neve Shalom (areas built before municipal Tel Aviv in the late 1800’s) and the new hip district by the port, I can see that renovation and historic preservation have begun to be taken seriously. Reminds me of SOMA (South of Market ) in San Francisco. Most of the tech development is in Tel Aviv and most of the bloggers, entrepreneurs, and VC’s we have met are based in Tel Aviv.

This time I only had a day in Jerusalem (you can see my blog entries for extended time in Jerusalem in

Much of our tour in Jerusalem is beautifully documented by the other bloggers. Jerusalem did its magic for the participants and some were visibly moved. Hopefully, Jerusalem will be able to benefit from transition to peace. But I am not holding my breath.

Gil Shwed and Checkpoint

by on April 17, 2008 at 5:00 am

While unknown by most American Jews, Gil Shwed is a role model entrepreneur for Israel. He is most admired because he founded and grew Check Point, the global leader in Internet security (think firewall and anti-hacker programs).

Gil spoke with our group in his office. Contrary to convention, it is no longer true that the best business model for Israeli companies is to base in the US and use Israeli engineers?this is a big issue here. Gil runs a global company with management both in the US and Israel. Israel is a very good place to start and grow a business and Gil feels he has fewer problems and disincentives in Israel than he has in Silicon Valley.

Gil is a global business leader and frequently commutes to the SF Bay Area fro business. He has created great regional wealth in both places.

Jerusalem Venture Partners

by on April 16, 2008 at 5:00 am

We met with JVP who work with Israel’s Chief Scientist and receives substantial government backing for promising entrepreneurs. We heard presentations by several “under the radar screen” start-ups that are about to release their products. We can not give details, but several involve animation and use of Avatars that are very intriguing (Second Life?Watch out!)

One very interesting soon to be released startup involves self-enrichment with good content provided by knowledgeable people for those who seek beyond Google searches. As I heard this young Israeli woman, who has a philosophy and psychology educational background present, I thought about this as the fulfillment of Doug Engelbart’s hope for the use of technology (Doug invented the keyboard and mouse among other innovations in the hope people would use these tools to solve human problems). peta dunia satelit . Hope this venture succeeds as it would help provide more access to useful information for everyone.

Two of the venture partners, Erel Margalit and Uri Adoni, provided an overview of Israeli start-ups and the role of JVP in development. These are as bright VC’s as you can find anywhere. Amazing Israel can play as large a role in tech innovation as it does. How such a small country can provide such large successes is the wonder of the world. Erel and Uri are certainly part of the answer.

Garage Geeks, Bloggers, and More

by on April 15, 2008 at 5:00 am

Israeli tech people have been extraordinarily hospitable with our group.

Sunday evening we went to a party in the industrial area of Holon. Filled with an amazing collection? bloggers, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists schmoozing with rock music blasting while consuming potluck?pizza, falafel, beer, wine, and bbq skewers. Lots of good connection.

Monday we had an elegant dinner with about fifty Israeli tech folks at Mendys in Tel Aviv: VC’s, entrepreneurs, Haaretz Marker execs and lots more. The dinner (elegant, copious and delicious) was hosted by two amazing entrepreneurs. Check out their companies Flixwagon and Meemix

Tuesday we were hosted by Israel 21 C a news service that presents stories of Israel beyond the conflict with Israeli Bloggers for a cocktail party in Mish Mish, (means apricots in Hebrew) a hip bar salon. So hard to go back to the Bay Area and return to our fairly boring lives after all this attention.

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