Archive for Enterprise from Israel

Jerusalem Venture Smarties

by on April 16, 2008 at 12:00 pm

i’d always hoped the smartest VCs weren’t all in Silicon Valley (because believe me– if you’d met some of them that’d be quite an indictment to the non-Valley venture world.) We just had a great meeting with Jerusalem Venture Partners and they confirmed it.

We saw a few startups we’re not allowed to talk about, and i had mixed feelings about them. but you could see that JVP has a very distinct investing philosophy, something a lot of the me-too Valley firms could learn from. in the interest of show-not-tell, go to Scoble’s qik video. I filmed a separate interviews that’ll be up on Tech Ticker one day…

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A Chat with JVP's Erel Margalit

by on April 16, 2008 at 5:00 am

Jvps_erel_margalit_4 JVP’s Managing Director Erel Margalit talks to our blogging group this week about start-ups and innovation in Israel.

Their Jerusalem outskirts office is not unlike a Silicon Valley-based VC office except that the printers and fax machines might be a tad older and like every other Israeli company kitchen, they’re well stocked with Nescafe instant coffee. The latter is an integral part of the culture here in the same way it was 20′ish years ago.

We learn about their DreamWorks-like initiative Animation Lab, which extends beyond a typical technology play. “The line is blurred between where technology ends and content begins,” noted Margalit. As the former head of MSN Israel, he has a background and perspective on digital rich content.

Erel and his team ‘get’ social media. We were introduced to three stealth mode companies and saw ‘on-screen’ demos. I can’t talk about them just yet, except to say that they’re dabbling in virtual worlds, interactive games, social networks and online video.

When asked about entrepreneurship and why there’s so much innovation coming out of Israel, Erel says, “Israelis don’t think about what they can lose but about what they can gain. Unlike Europe, they don’t have a plate on their door in a town where their family and history was rooted for 1,000 years. Israel is new and full of immigrants from all over the world. So its much easier for us to take risks.”

JVP is currently the king VC in Israel, having launched between 20 and 40 companies, with most of their exits in the communications and media space. “We’re on our 5th fund,” he added. English to Armenian “The key is to make a few home runs in each fund.”

We got the impression that they’re on track and that the climate was ripe with opportunities. Eran continued to rave about the opportunities that Israel has over Europe and the states…..and why. “Silicon Valley is very engineering driven versus the rest of the world. Not having that as a major driving force gives us an opportunity.”

He sees other opportunities in Asia where they’re developing a lot of interactive content. During his last trip to China, he observed that 500,000 were playing online warfare games. In LA, it was all about broadcasting entertainment. In Europe, mobile continues to take a leadership role.

I captured the tail end of his interview on video – see below (also uploaded to Flixwagon.com). Click play to tune in.

Israel: a country too far from Mike Arrington’s house

by on April 15, 2008 at 5:00 am

This headline is only a little in jest. But as I’ve gotten around to various tech companies here in Israel I’ve started noticing a trend: that the further away a tech area is from Silicon Valley the less respect that area will get. The headline is also a bit unfair to TechCrunch/Mike because he’s actually been to Israel and has a couple of writers covering the tech scene here, but if you’re a blogger and let the facts get in the way of a good headline you’ll never go anywhere.

I’ve noticed this when I visited MySpace: they were so excited when I visited because they say that tech bloggers never visit. I was thinking back to my own experiences. Yes, that’s true. Facebook employees regularly meet up with us at parties and dinners and conferences. We run into MySpace employees far less often. These personal connections turn into stories on blogs.

Same when I visited San Antonio. These were companies I never hear about in conversations in the valley. We don’t have personal connections to their employees. Ask yourself, have you ever heard of PerfTech? Kulabyte? Rackspace? Newtech?

Anyway, I’ve been all over to the world. Shanghai. Tokyo. Frankfurt. London. New York. Cork. Dublin. Hamburg. Geneva.

I’ve never seen the entrepreneurial spirit outside of Silicon Valley like I’ve seen here in Tel Aviv. The companies here are doing technology that’s deep, varied, and highly profitable.

Anyway, I’ll write more about this topic over the weekend, because right now we’re about to leave to see Jeruselem and meet with some Venture Capitalists to further understand what’s going on here in Israel.

In the meantime, go to TechCrunch and check out Fring’s new iPhone app. (Fring is headquartered here in Israel, and shows another trend that I’ve noticed here that Israel is WAY ahead of the United States in use of Mobile apps — another thing that’s surprising is how many iPhones you see here, even though there isn’t a single Apple store).

One other thing, Twitter has been where we’ve been having interesting conversations. It was amazing. The other day we were in a van between Haifa and Tel Aviv. Talking with Arrington back in California. Christineleu in China. GiaGia in London. All at the same time.

The advent of Twitter is one thing that’s bringing far away lands into the PR machinery that exists only in Silicon Valley.

I wish I had a month to spend here, so many startups want to get my attention, but I just can’t see them all. But there still is nothing better than meeting face-to-face over a beer to find out interesting stories about people, companies, countries.

For instance, last night several people begged me to write about the proposed Israel Censorship Law. Global Voices Online has already done that, but if it weren’t for being here I wouldn’t have known about the issues that they really care about.

Anyway, off to Jeruselem, stay in touch with us on my Twitter account.

Do you agree or disagree that people, companies, countries can get the respect and/or tech industry PR they deserve if they are far away from Silicon Valley?

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.

Israel: Start up energy to spare

by on April 14, 2008 at 5:00 am

In some ways, spending this week in israel is overwhelming; there’s just so much to absorb and assimilate, and I have so little context for it all. Sephardic traditions, Arab traditions, European traditions–I have no sense how they bump up against one another and how the big dose of American culture mixes it all up.

On another level, the tech world here–especially the web 2.0 corner–seems amazingly familiar.The passionate entrepreneurs, problem-solving engineers, and thoughtful VCs I’m meeting are all familar with Silicon Valley culture and building applications on a global scale (have to, Israel is such a small country).

Some of the start-ups teams that I’ve met that have me particularly energized include Pandora competitor and personalized music service meemix, where CEO Gil Shlang, Chief Scientist Dr. Ricardo Tarrasch and some kick ass musicologists/editors seem to be going at it the right way
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Also impressed with the folks at  Work Light, where marketing guy Yonni Harif is building interest in a lightweight and secure application layer that can manage document access and security from within the Facebook environment (and all sorts of other cool things, including secure RSS).

And of course my friend and mobile entrepreneur  Eran Ahronson is inspiring..nothing like building one company after another..inspiring to see someone stay the course and be smart about it.

In other words, there is great start up energy here, with lots of eager developers, free floating VCs and all the talent to support that. (And are there many women-owned companies, especially technical ones? Hate to say it, but the answers seems to be…not.)

Note: Coming from Silicon Valley, it is interesting to see how knowledgeable everyone is
about our little bubble and how much the geeks we’re meeting adore and respect Scoble. For them, he’s both what the aspire to be and the man on the street–and he’s just as gracious and engaged as can be, another inspiring lesson in focus. domain owner dns information . where is domain hosted . domain dns server . ip tech info i cloud web archive . website down . apache web server word cloud . English to Armenian . Brasov Restosundsecge . peta dunia satelit

Travelling Geeks: Visiting Zoran, Haifa

by on April 14, 2008 at 5:00 am

Our geeky roadshow is at Zoran, a Haifa/Sunnyvale company that does digital media chips and processing worldwide. They’re moving into mobile co-processors, laster printing processors, etc.
This company
has been at the forefront, they say, of multimedia processing…with everything. I am pretty hardwade indifferent, but the new chip they just showed us that can be used to download movies o to USB sticks and then play anywhere look pretty impressive….

As Craig says, these devices will allow streaming over the net to the box and the chip and stream right into the TV–The chip/system is a prototype, they say, but going into release by 2009 (watch for CES!

Susan sez: Yeah, this is kind of geeky for my tastes, but it’s another step toward streaming video over the next from a home or centralized server..and that is cool (think Slingbox).

Zoran is also showing some other cool tools…Coach 10 DCP Zlight is a new technology that helps correct for light distortion; it’s in the market with camera partners…cool stuff…And of course every geek in the room is drooling over the amazing tools this company is building–correctors for blurry photos, new sources for HD within cameras, all sorts of emablers… cote d’ivoire . politika . domain owner . where is domain hosted . domain dns server . ip tech info . i cloud web archive . website down apache web server word cloud Brasov .

Zoran Enriches Our Digital World

by on April 14, 2008 at 5:00 am

Zoran We’re currently at Zoran’s headquarters in Haifi, roughly an hour and a half from Tel Aviv. Zoran develop chips. They’re not as well known in the states even though they have offices in Boston and Sunnyvale. English to Armenian . Global offices include Taiwan, China, India, Japan, Korea, Germany, England and Canada.

The name is intriguing. Zoran means silicon in Hebrew, but it is also means excellence in Chinese and is a common male’s name in Yugoslavia.

Zoron’s VP of Business Development Isaac Shenberg talks to us about Zoran’s history, its current markets and where they’re heading in the future. Their revenue exceeded 700 million in 2007.

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He claims Zoran was the oldest start up that went public (13 years). In 1992, 100% of their market was in digital cameras, then they moved into digital imaging and home theatre in a box by 2003. They’re now starting to integrate into mobile devices.

Today, the red laser DVD market is a $170 million market worldwide. Zoran owns 26% of that market and is currently #2 in the world. Zoran remains the number provider of chips in digital cameras — they do everything except for censors. Other growing markets for them include laser printing, mobile phones, blue laser DVD, digital TV and cameras.

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We saw a prototype of a chip that they’re working on that can bring consumers HDTV quality movies inside a tiny box, a box you’d be able to stream high quality videos to at a price everyone can afford. Blueray. Think of it as a mini slingbox on steroids.

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We were also introduced to COACH, their real-time lens distortion correction process. They sell this to OEMs who can decide which feature to use depending on their market and need. Most camera manufacturers are integrating this, except for Canon who is the ‘last fortress to get on board,’ says Shenberg with a laugh.

In digital photography, there are issues with images that have strong contrast. Zoran is apparently the only player who can perform Zlight in real-time. COACH can restore natural details in shadows and recover highlights in the bright areas of an image. They’re also doing things with noise distortion and facial recognition.

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