Archive for Events from Israel

Kaltura and Blonde 2.0’s event for Digg’s Matt Van Horn

by on August 4, 2009 at 1:23 pm

Guest Post written by guest author Ahuvah Berger

Last night Kaltura hosted an intimate gathering in honor of Digg’s Matt Van Horn’s arrival in Israel. The lovely mixer took place at the elegant Benyamin Wine Bar in Tel Aviv and we had a special musical performance by David Broza, an Israeli musical icon. We mingled and schmoozed over delicious wine and food. (more…)

MIA Friday

by on May 2, 2008 at 12:00 pm

Apologies, dear readers. I have been MIA this morning. Pilates at 8 a.m. and then had to rush Mr. Vinnie to the vet for some issues you don’t want to know about….believe me. He’s going to be fine and actually got a gold star for losing another half a pound. The big fella — who is essentially Tony Soprano in cat form– is now under 20 lbs for the first time, since, um, he was a kitten, I think.

I also swung by the bank to deposit a very, very important check from Penguin. Important because it solidifies the fact that my book is indeed getting published in 15 days and important because it represents the down-payment on our new Victorian in the mission!! Yay!

So, as I get my late start to blogging, mosey over to TechCrunch and read this. Whether you care about technology because you are a rabid early adopter or a rabid stock investor, this is an important issue for you. I’ve only recently started to understand just how hard it is to move companies to the US– even from non-threatening places like the UK. (I mean what are they going to do? Charmingly mock us to death?) Between this and the H1-B Visa issue there’s just way too much of a disconnect between the Silicon Valley ecosystem that WANTS smart people with good ideas and the smart people with good ideas that support the Silicon Valley ecosystem.

Made worse by the fact that 50% of the congress doesn’t even have a passport.

Am I right?

MeeMix Changes Music Listening & Sharing

by on April 24, 2008 at 12:00 pm

I met a number of entrepreneurs and venture guys in Israel over the past couple of weeks. The Garage Geeks event was also full of start-ups. There are far too many to cover them all but I’ll be talking about the ones I most resonated with and would be likely to personally use over the next couple of days.

We also saw a few that are still in stealth mode so I can’t write about them yet, but as things develop, I’ll cover the ones that gave me aha moments. One is in the 3D space and tries to combine elements of SecondLife, SceneCaster and some of the sites solely dedicated to 3D online shopping.

As a lover of music and the Pandora concept, I was really impressed with MeeMix, a personalized Internet radio community, built to reflect and engage unique taste preferences.

MeeMix encourages users to saturate their personal spaces on the web with expressions of their own one-of-a-kind taste in music. Members communicate with a slew of other social networks and friend communities, by making live song recommendations on Facebook, posting favorit songs or reviews to Twitter, placing Mee Widgets in sites and blogs presenting Favorite Artist, Favorite Station or using one of their applications in Bebo, Facebook, Hi5, and MySpace to present their music style in local profiles.

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They’re unique in several ways. MeeMix looks at your invested user experience and adds a community nature to predict music you’d likely be interested in. Some of the other sites in this category that aim at taste prediction strive for detailed classification of music and rely mainly on musical attributes to estimate a user taste.

MeeMix tries to identify personal taste by giving the human factor more consideration and combining that with musical attributes. They are not interested in classifying all of the characteristics of a song but are constantly refining the attributes they classify to better relate them to a user preference.

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In contrast to competitors, if three members ask for the same artist in MeeMix in creating a personalized station, chances are that their stations will be very different upon completion. The reason will be the human factor. Their algorithm takes into account demographic and geographical aspects. If the same artist is picked by a 16-year-old girl from Minnesota and a 34-year-old man from Spain, their musical tastes are probably not similar and those their playlist will be comprised based on very different characteristics.

Their home page is pretty simple making it easy for people to get started quickly without a lot of effort or having to sift through a complicated set-up process. It almost looks like a search engine for music.

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It’s worth checking out and I’m sure they would love to hear your feedback. Below: me with their quick witted and engaging CEO Gilad Shlang after a start-up dinner in Tel Aviv.

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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.”

One voice: meet up—Craig Newmark and One Voice group

by on April 20, 2008 at 12:00 pm

The boy is late teens, handsome and fair, and his eyes are earnest as he talks: “In One Voice we don’t call it peace anymore; we want to bring about an a agreement that will bring bout comfort and a more stable situation than they have now. It’s not peace, it’s divorce…the metaphor says now we are pre divorce and we need to balance the situation…this is the difference between one voice and the normal peace movement that talks about peace and friendship.”
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It’s a weekend morning, in Tel Aviv and Craig Newmark, JD Lasica and I are meeting with the director and a group of student leaders from One Voice , a powerful, grassroots peace movement that has engaged Israelis, especially college students, from all over Tel Aviv, Ramallah, and Gaza, as well as drawn in members from the US, the UK, Canada, and other parts of the world. The group is bright, committed, and right now, engaged in making sure this group of American bloggers and funders (Craig is on their board), understands how they work and what they have to offer.

Basically here’s what I learn:
The universities are flash-points for OneVoice recruitment, as are the occupied terrorities. The movement tries to educate through lectures and events, then recruits at various levels of engagement, from signing up for a newsletter (over 100K people in a country of 7 million) to attending events, to joining as an organizer.  For the students involved, One Voice clearly offers a change to discuss, a change to create change, but mostly importantly, a means to hope.

Here’s some of what the students tell us:

Marina:  This movement involves the public so they can have an opinion for themselves and think about what they support.

Tal: We try to enrich student understanding with lectures and knowledge; we also take the message of OneVoice and careful optimism and take it out on the streets, where we want to mobilize the students and the city residents.

Another student: We ask citizens what would you do to end the conflict? People can become policy makers, instead of just consumers of policy
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Talking with this group, they make it clear to me that what engages them so deeply is the feeling of being empowered in a frustrating situation where it is so hard to effect policy changes. Because OneVoice is a participatory culture, with youth councils, leadership councils, and local action, it provides a means for these bright engaged students to avoid dispair, as well as to educate and inform.

Listening to the talk flow around me, and seeing the passion in these fresh eyes, it strikes me that like the African National Congress (ANC) for South African Doris Lessing and her fellow progressives in Johannesberg, so long ago, OneVoice provides a means to survive and hang on in an impossible situation by becoming a force for positive change. It strikes me that OneVoice is a great group, not only for what it offers in terms of the conflict, but the positive vision it offers Israel and Arab youth, and through them, their parents, families and neighbors
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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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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?

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

 

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