Archive for Emerging Technologies from Israel

Improve Your Inductive Reasoning Through Mind360

by on August 5, 2009 at 11:56 pm

LogoRightBeta I recently learned about this cool Israel-based company Mind360, which develops mind games and it’s not just for older folks with aging brains.

As you get older that it’s harder to find where you left your car keys, your brush, even your cup of coffee while you’re running around the house trying to get out in the morning?

The brain is a muscle – I learned a lot about how the brain tools and retrains itself after my grandfather had a stroke. (more…)

My6Sense Updates Us

by on July 31, 2009 at 5:14 pm

Barak Hachamov and the My6Sense team gathers in Palo Alto to talk about their updates and upcoming iPhone app.

Cathy’s Traveling Geeks wrap-up

by on May 21, 2008 at 12:00 pm

With the mental maelstrom sorted, I’m clear of mind enough to hammer out some final thoughts from my Kinnernet/Traveling Geeks 2008 adventure in Israel.

In the spirit of brevity (and clarity), I’m opting to embrace my not-so-inner-Virgo moon and clear out these last items in short order.

So fasten your seat belt, and perhaps keep a crash helmet nearby, as I whip through a series of powerful and impactful events:

Rogozin School
There is, at some point, a far more in-depth commentary from me about this visit. For now, however, I’ll defer to the words of my fellow TG, Robert Scoble because his truly touching post paints a lovely picture of our visit.

Peres Center for Peace
In December 2006, I had the pleasure of hearing Shimon Peres speak at LeWeb. He said that while governments might posture and make noise about peace, the truth is that it was up to the private sector to establish the infrastructure necessary to maintain and grow a peaceful society. That is what the Peres Center for Peace endeavors to do – bridge chasms between disparate groups by bringing the sides together to tackle common issues (education, agriculture, children).

Good Vision
Sadly I missed most of this presentation. As was the case with pretty much our entire week, we were running late. Based on an earlier version of our schedule, which showed Thursday afernoon open, I had arranged a series of meetings with entrepreneurs in Tel Aviv.

My TG colleagues who took part in these meetings each offered glowing reviews. But rather than try and paraphrase, I’ll point you to Renee Blodgett’s accounting of the visit.

Israeli Entrepreneurship – the Ladies’ Way
This trip to Israel brought with it several opportunities to meet a few of the powerful women rising in the ranks of this innovative community. Susan Mernit wrote a great post that captures the essence of how the woman who populate this incredibly aggressive and rapidly moving technology market manage to blaze trails while remaining utterly committed to forward movement of technology and in supporting other women in the market.

My last meeting finished up at about 7:00pm. The Traveling Geeks were to have one last dinner together, but unfortunately some pressing deadlines back in the States required that I work through dinner (since I’d spend the entire next day on the plane).

I sent the last email, got my bags pretty much packed, and that’s when I made a decision that, while perhaps not the most intelligent choice I’ve ever made, certainly was fun.

Our flight was to depart at about 8am. That meant getting to the airport by 6am. Which meant leaving the hotel around 5:15am.

“No problem,” I thought to myself. “I just won’t go to sleep.”

Oy.

While the tales of the evening are amusing, I have to think about whether or not they’re appropriate to share … (and of course if I have to think about it, that probably means the answer is that I shouldn’t).

But in any case … with the trip now in the rearview mirror and many adventures on the horizon, I conclude this last Traveling Geeks Israel 2008 post… and look forward to the future and more TG adventures!

U.S. Aid’s Tie to Israeli/Palestinian Peace Process

by on April 22, 2008 at 12:00 pm

Map At the San Francisco Commonwealth Club earlier this month, I attended a heated debate on whether U.S. aid should be tied to the Israel peace process.

Subject to congressional approval, the U.S. would pledge $27 billion in security assistance to Israel over the next decade. The discussion was whether this investment was in support of peace and whether it is a good investment for America.

Panelists included:
Dr. Stephen Zunes, Professor, University of San Francisco; Chair, Middle Eastern Studies
Alison Weir, Founder, If Americans Knew
Dr. Mitchell Ba/2008Author Myths and Facts
Dr. Uri Bar Joseph, a visiting professor of Israel Studies at SFSU
Jonathan Adelman, Author, The Rise of Israel: A History of a Revolutionary State

Alison Weir was adamant about getting her point across that we only hear one side of the argument through the American media and suggested history as many of us know it isn’t entirely accurate. She argued that Israel has received more in U.S. tax money than any other country on earth and that Jordan and Palestine gets 1/20 to 1/23 of that.

She says, “Over half of our tax money abroad goes to a country the size of New Jersey.” And then she proceeded to go on and on about how Israel’s evil ways. How they tend to attack first, and then throws death stats out: Israelis have killed 982 Palestinians and 119 Israeli children.

While she ‘could have shown us’ a fair opposing perspective, she failed to deliver. Commitment to being right was too strong as it was for Dr. Mitchell Bard on the other side.

What I found frustrating was that each side seemed to have their own set of stats, which conflicted with every stat on the other side, and that instead of presenting fair arguments, it all just felt far too personal. The problem is that its not just a political or economic issue – it IS personal. It’s about land that both sides want and need to call home. Your home is about as personal as it gets.

Dr. Mitchell Bard probably had the strongest opposing view of the panelists who were in favor of continued aid. “Israelis hunger for peace,” he asserts. “How do we achieve peace in the Middle East when the Israelis gave up land in Gaza and Lebanon and terrorism continues? Israel must be able to defend itself and its land. Israel has traded land but where is the peace?”

There was tremendous polarity among the speakers, which in many cases made it counterproductive. In some ways, I wished they merely had each panelist make a 5 minutes opening remark and then move to the floor so we could engage with them and have a productive discussion about the issues at hand.

The topic is clearly a highly-inflamed one. I’m simultaneously reading The Lemon Tree and The Israelis, both of which are fabulous reads. After the read, you end up empathizing for both sides and end up in conflict.

And yet if you’re not Jewish, ask yourself the question: how far would you go to protect your homeland if you didn’t have one? If you had lost a couple of generations because of your religion, your family name?

After the event, I met a number of interesting people with views on both sides. An American Jewish lawyer who was pro-Israel had concerns that continued aid for weapons would only lead to more violence, never allowing a chance for peace. Other American Jews took different sides — it was really all over the map.

Another woman in her who was roughly 70 simply wanted to tell her story of how she led American students to Israel in the early seventies. How her Israeli husband still lives there and what it is like to spend half her time there and half of it in Silicon Valley. After walking down Market Street with her for nearly an hour, I wanted to hear her entire life story as well as her husband’s lengthy tale. I later got this lengthy tale which I’ll write about later.

It’s such a complex issue that its painful to go back and forth between so many scenarios. Israeli Uri Bar Joseph seemed to be the calmest of the panelists posing a solution that sits somewhere in between, a view that seemed reasonable and ‘kind.’

He felt that the money could be more wisely spent if we diverted some of it to rebuilding Palestine and Syria. He reminds us that 60% of both Israelis and Palestinians agree on some form of peace plan from the 2000 agreement. His approach of a quieter solitude rather than an angry “you’re wrong, I’m right” approach left me feeling more optimistic. There must be a solution to ending this conflict if both sides want to live side by side.

And on the business side, the world is very different. My world. See a March SJ Mercury News article about the growth of Silicon Valley Israel ties.

As the article points out, “tech history buffs may recognize the land where Jesus was born as also the birthplace of Intel’s Pentium chip and AOL’s ICQ instant-messaging service. As technology transforms the 21st century, the relationship between the valley and Israel is intensifying, creating a rich two-way flow of highly skilled workers, intellectual property, finance and commerce.”

So What Did We Accomplish?

by on April 19, 2008 at 12:00 pm

Our visit, sponsored by the Israeli Foreign Ministry, was a pilot experiment to see what would happen if we could turn bloggers and podcasters loose to write about Innovation in Israel. This is a pioneering effort to utilize the connectivity and immediacy of the Web in service of extending “knowing” rather than just knowledge about Israel.

The number of blog posts, twitters, videos, podcasts and photos is prodigious and will grow over the next month as our traveling geeks consolidate their material. These people worked hard to produce a wide range of work that has been collected and will be easily accessible on the travelinggeeks.com/ site.

The site itself, built by our volunteers, is an example to the government and other organizations who wish to connect people to Israel of what can be done with the new technology to represent Israel. Hopefully, it may affect how technology is used to build community through interactivity on the web for many organizations. It is different than traditional media in that it is informal, personal, experiential, interactive, visual, and immediate (real time reporting).

Tens of thousands have followed the twitters (posts by the bloggers picked up by people following their activities); thousands more will see the postings, photos, and videos and will hear the podcasts. This should increase general awareness and knowledge of Israeli life and innovation.

Perhaps the most important accomplishment is the personal connection for each participant to Israel and Israelis. As Robert Scoble said,” I knew Israelis, but I did not know Israel and I want to come back.”

The generous hospitality of of our Israeli hosts enabled each member of the group to connect individually to Israeli peers?formally and informally. Our women bloggers had a special meeting with counterpart Israeli women bloggers?from that meeting there will be further connection that will reverberate from what people will do with each other.

Hopefully, connecting people everywhere to Israelis through our personal experience on this trip,? then using the web to extend those experiences to the awareness of many?will do good for a long time to come.

Why Israel is an Innovation Leader?Yet Tough Times Ahead

by on April 19, 2008 at 12:00 pm

Gil Schwed had an intriguing answer: Israel began as an experiment in Jewish history. Innovation was built into the Israeli experience from the beginning.

Also technology development has always been a strategic component of the Israeli military advantage. That knowledge gets transfered to commercial applications better in Israel than anywhere else outside of the US.

Combine these factors with the influx of Russian engineers and scientists over the past fifteen years and Israel integration into the global innovation economy?Voila! You have the ingredients for successful innovation. Israel is considered to be the foremost region (after Silicon Valley) for technology R&D ?lots of venture capital, successful start-ups, attractive to many multi-national corporations.

However, there are clearly major problems Israel faces to sustain and benefit from these advantages:

  • The wealth is more highly concentrated among a few, while poverty and despair increases for many. The digital divide is a wide chasm in Israel.
  • The education system is deteriorating and the continuance of a skilled workforce for technology?essential for sustained economic development in attracting global business?may be seriously limited.
  • The Israeli confidence in themselves is lower. I spoke with a wide spectrum of Israelis from religious to secular, family, friends, and new acquaintances. Collectively they signaled to me they are not pleased with what is happening both within Israel and from without. To put some perspective on this, recently 81% of the American public thinks our country is going in the wrong direction; however, they are mostly happy themselves and have more positive confidence in their institutions than the Israelis seem to do. Many Israelis do not have trust in their government, Arab and Iranian hostile intentions, and believe the quality of life in Israeli society is declining.

While Israeli innovation is a bright spot, Israeli mood seems to be in a slump.

Passover is a season of moving to hope from despair, to freedom from slavery, and to strength from weakness. Perhaps we can also see innovation as a driving force for improvement with positive intent from Israelis collectively for themselves.

Check Point’s Gil Shwed Believes in Israel

by on April 17, 2008 at 12:00 pm

Checkpoints_gil_shwed_10 Our group met with Check Point’s CEO and founder Gil Schwed today in Tel Aviv suburb Ramat Gan, the same stretch of land where the Barkats’ grandfather, a bus driver once grew tomatoes. According to Rosenthal’s research, he is nicknamed “Gil Gates” after successfully growing Check Point into a $20 billion stock market value company by 2001.

I shot a 15 minute video of Gil telling his ’story’ on a Nokia GSM video phone, but it sadly seems to have disappeared. If I can somehow reclaim the footage, I’ll post the video at a later date. Scoble also shot him in high resolution so if my raw footage is lost, you can watch the interview on Fast Company.com later this month.

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One of the things that was an underlying thread throughout all of his business examples and recap of Check Point’s history, was his love of Israel and his belief that running a technology company here is easier than it would be in the United States. Easier and more efficient. He also brought up several other points.

Says Gil, “we?ve had an entrepreneurial spirit for over 100 years. My parents came here, trying to build something new. First agriculture, then infrastructure and today, technology. One thing that really helps us here is that we don?t have a local market.

What if we had started Check Point in Boston rather than Tel Aviv? Here, we think more globally. In the states, France and Germany, you have large local markets, which means creating and thinking in those languages and for those cultures. We are thinking of customers who are 6,000+ miles away from home.”

Checkpoints_gil_shwed_7

More than anything else, he stressed the benefits of building a company in Israel. “People are loyal here,” says Gil. “They are driven, think globally, and have a lot of passion. Because they are far away from the energy of Silicon Valley, they are focused on products and listening to customers, not the hype and latest trends.”

He thinks that being in an environment where a new trend born every few months is distracting. In Silicon Valley, there’s always a new trend and if people don?t jump on that bandwagon when it hits, they feel left behind. “Not the case here,” he says. “People work at companies for 3-5 years or longer and don?t feel as if they?re being left behind. They feel like they?re part of a group, a community, that they?re building something.”

In Rosenthal’s book, what it means to be an Israeli entrepreneur comes through as strong as it did today when we chatted in one of his conference rooms on Tel Aviv’s Ha’solelim Street. She describes him as a ‘boyish looking bachelor with cropped hair and John Lennon glasses.’ I didn’t quite see him that way, but I do think she did a great job of bringing his dry and serious wit to life.

During his interview with her, he noted that Israel is a natural for start-ups. Yossi Vardi feels the same way as does numerous other driven and successful entrepreneurs in this country.

Like Gil’s references today, he brought up the impact that immigration has had on business growth, particularly technology. He has immigrant mentality – strong, committed, loyal, passionate, driven and practical. I have read in a few articles that wearing black clothes is one of Gil’s trademarks, so I expected him to walk through the door wearing all black, and he did. Not surprising that he thinks wearing all black is “practical.” When you travel as much as he does, it makes sense.

He tells an amusing story of his resourceful mother in the book, an example from childhood that I resonated with. I think his mother and my grandfather would have really hit it off since my grandfather pulled similar stunts on a regular basis when I was growing up.

He recalls traveling around the country with her. “She’d see a dairy and stop and ask, ‘can my kid watch how you milk cow? She knocked on the door of Ha’aretz and asked, ‘can my kid see how you print the newspaper?’

It’s the best way to raise kids in my opinion. It gives children a sense of adventure and shows them how easy it is to create it. If it doesn’t feel right or you’re not sure, just ask. How will you know if you don’t try? I was raised that way but its no surprise since I was raised my grandparents, a generation behind most of my counterparts.

That generation is closer to the early immigrant mentality that Israel is experiencing today. It is during this stage of building a new country that great innovation happens. Passion and energy levels are high. There isn’t a lot of fear nor is there much complacency.

People hunger for growth and knowledge and with these characteristics, comes great things, like the amazing technology that came out of Check Point more than ten years ago and is being launched today in incubators and start-ups. Great innovation is coming out of kibbutzim as well but that’s another story to be told. Stay tuned. It’s a story that will likely bring tears to your eyes.

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.

Israeli Women in Tech

by on April 16, 2008 at 5:00 am

At Israel’s Marker conference this week, I was pleasantly surprised how many women were in attendance. Some women I spoke to complained that they make up a very small percentage, maybe 10%, but my sense was that it was much higher.

Compared to technology conferences in the states, Israeli women seem to be leading the way. Even if they’re not all CEOs or VCs, they showed up. As for the male/female speaker ratio, its pretty small and probably comparable to the U.S.

I chatted with several women, but not enough to get a sense of what the breakdown was between clerical, large corporate management and entrepreneurs. I did talk to a number of content producers, graphic designers, marketing execs and journalists however and all of them were interesting, driven, well traveled and spoke English fluently. Many have lived abroad.

The other thing I noticed was the strong presence of feminine energy – from clothing, shoes, make-up and bags to their walk, hair styles and smile. It was all there – purses rather than logoed backpacks, vibrantly designed cell phone holders, European barrettes, wild boots and multi-colored glasses.

Below is a fair representation of the female faces of technology in the greater Tel Aviv area. I probably took another 200 or so shots, so you tell me where there is a higher number of women in technology?

Fashion blogger Daria Shualy

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Maayan Cohen, New Media Reporter at the Marker

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Hagit Katzenelson

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Orli Yakuel

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Maayan Cohen, New Media Reporter at the Marker
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Geeks and Heroism in the Holy Land

by on April 15, 2008 at 5:00 am

Our little ragtag TravelingGeek posse has had quite a time this week. Through our array of experiences – from the unsinkable Sarah Lacy battling what may well be Pneumonia and the startling experience Craig Newmark had while visiting Seambiotic – the wandering geeks have bobbed and weaved through minor adversity, managing to maintain a mostly jovial energy throughout.

But unexpected experience is part and parcel of life here, and I believe are also central to why, as one of my TravelingGeek compatriots, Robert Scoble, commented today, Israel is probably the only place outside of Silicon Valley where the pulse of entrepreneurship beats as powerfully.

From where I sit (which I should mention is on a brand new bus that the Israeli Government got the TravelingGeeks today for our trip to Jerusalem!), it’s clear why innovation and entrepreneurship thrive here.

It’s about fear … or perhaps better to say, lack thereof. Brasov . peta dunia satelit .

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