Archive for Gadgets from Israel

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.”

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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.

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?

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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