Archive for Web 2.0 from Israel

SaaS Goes Open Source: Kaltura’s Yekutiel Tells Us Why

by on July 31, 2009 at 5:35 pm

Kaltura’s Ron Yekutiel talks to us about open source and video. They organized and participated in a SaaS Goes Open Source panel at AlwaysOn this week, together with SpikeSource, Zimbra, Acquia, Fenwick & West and Alfresco.

It’s disruptive he says, but tears down those gardened walls giving corporations better control, flexibility and better integration. More from Ron on the SaaS model, video and open source below.

Blonde 2.0 Tries Hard to Get Me in Trouble

by on July 20, 2009 at 6:18 pm

One thing I've noticed during my six months of jet-setting is that entrepreneurs around the world want to be compared to Silicon Valley, but frequently get upset when you do it. Michael Arrington jokingly asks how I intend to piss off a whole country this time before I leave for any trip. (At least, I think he's joking…)

So, note the tap dancing below as Ayelet Noff asks me to compare Silicon Valley entrepreneurs to London entrepreneurs and Israeli entrepreneurs.


by on May 4, 2008 at 12:00 pm

If there’s one theme that I’ve thought about, talked about and written about the most over my career covering tech and finance it’s the debate of whether you need to relocate to Silicon Valley to be successful. In my case, there’s no doubt I’ve had a better career just by covering business in the Valley, so it’s hard for me to believe anyone who wants to profit from the startup ecosystem wouldn’t be more successful here. Over the years, I’ve read a lot of weak treatises that say Valley isn’t all that great, ultimately coming off either bitter or just naive, but here is a pretty nice piece arguing against Valley relocation. Although, I’m still not convinced.

The strongest point the writer makes is about the damaging affects of the temptation to bulk up on venture capital and not figure out a real business. There is a certain “Valley game” you can get sucked into that can cloud good judgment. Although, I think tying that to Web 2.0 is a bit misleading since the hottest Web 2.0 companies all bootstrapped themselves or lived on angel funding for most of their early days. And besides, really, isn’t knowing when to take money just a test of a good entrepreneur? Hell, I’ve been offered money to start a company before. It’s not access to cash that defines your worth, it’s the discipline to know if that’s the right thing for you and your business.

Per the point about it being harder to retain great people in the Valley, that argument can go both ways. Pro argument for the Valley: the Valley has more talent than anywhere else and they all know the costs and risks of being at a startup. Con: the best people always want to flock to the next hot startup. Personally, I think the latter is overstated. There are certain momentum seekers who will flock to the next pre-IPO name, but those are the people most entrepreneurs don’t want working for them, so actually that phenomenon can be a nice filter. After all smart people work at Mozilla, a company that has said it will never go public. Also, if startups are worried a hotter name will steal their coders, doesn’t that put a healthy pressure on startups to be the best they can. I just generally think competition is good for business. I guess it comes down to what you want: a nice business that might get acquired or to really build something big and lasting. If it’s the latter and you can’t make it in the Valley, are you really good enough to be a billion dollar company?

For good measure, here is a nice piece Evan Williams wrote about it earlier this year. As you’ll see he’s mixed too, but I think his story underscores the more practical point: There’s an undeniable correlation with being in the Valley and success, so if it’s easier why wouldn’t you just move? Evan also points out the social advantages of living in a place where there’s so much creativity and entrepreneurial spirit in the air. Indeed, that seems to be the part people outside the Valley miss. Because it’s one of those things you need to be around to understand. It is the norm to want to build something here– that’s incredibly powerful to entrepreneurs in other parts of the world who are used to feeling like outcasts or silly dreamers.

I’m thinking about this a lot today (while everyone else still seems to be obsessing about Micro-hoo!), as I finish up a column on Isreali entrepreneurs for BusinessWeek. I talked about this a lot over there: Whether all Israeli startups have to move their HQ to the Valley or not, so check out my column this week for more. Israel has benefitted greatly from this symbiotic relationship, but the question is whether it holds them back from being a true technology hub. One interesting note: the people who tend to argue you don’t have to move usually aren’t in the process of building a company. They have either already made their money (frequently, by relocating to the Valley) or are investors, attorneys or other members of the startup ecosystem in markets outside the Valley. In other words, there’s a logical argument that boosters of Atlanta, Austin, London or Tel Aviv can make, but when it’s actually your business and you’re the one trying to mitigate risk of failure, it’s another matter.

There’s something about it that’s like looking at a baseball team’s lineup in April. It could look like a killer team on paper, but somehow on the field they just don’t gel. A city could have every natural resource a startup needs, and somehow lack that cultural glue, support system or whatever you want to call it that is really the intangible reason people don’t leave the Valley once they are here. A lot about this in my book, and I’d love to hear thoughts from any readers once it’s out and I (hopefully!) have readers.

And with that hackneyed analogy, I am off to a Sunday baseball game! Any Israelis: send me some final thoughts before I file!

The Traveling Geeks Revealed

by on April 19, 2008 at 12:00 pm

The Traveling Geeks became a community during our five day visit. We partied in the evening with Israeli hosts and were schlepped in vans from site to site during the day to meet with Israeli VC?s, entrepreneurs, and innovators. We schmoozed, ate, laughed, and kvetched together?so I have come to know these people.

As a group they are bright, funny, curious, passionate and savvy about trends and technology. They are all practitioners of a new electronic journalism that is more experiential, informal and visual than traditional print and broadcast media. Chosen for their audiences and credibility in the technology field, they are as competent and knowledgeable as one could hope for to comment on Israeli innovation. Please read their blogs and view their photos and videos to gain their perspective.

In no particular order, here are my revelations on each of them:

Craig Newmark: One of the best known personalities on the Internet for his Craig?s List, Craig has an amazing following and reputation. He began to Twitter (posts of what he was doing at any particular moment) that had a thousand people for each post within days of his beginning to Twitter. Craig was the resident comic who had us in stitches with his self-deprecating, dry wit. On several occasions he showed what a Mench he really is. Highlight was taking cover together during a rocket attack alert in Ashkelon. So Craig, “We will always have Ashkelon.”

Robert Scoble: One of the most followed bloggers on the Internet, Robert is as cool and funny in person as he is on line. Hard at work or play, Robert has a curiosity and intelligence that just does not quit. He lives, breathes, and snorts technology; his knowledge of tech trends and innovative businesses is awesome. We all agreed Scoble writing for Fast Company is a perfect fit.

Renee Blodgett: Great spirit and lots of energy. Renee is fun, free wheeling, and friendly. Her writing and visuals beautifully tell stories. Her blogs reveal her self and her experiences. She is a great example of the experiential blogger who seeks knowing rather than just knowledge.

Susan Mernit: First time in Israel, Susan may have had the greatest personal transformation of the group. Her personal background combines poetry, creative writing, business, anthropology, arts, and a dozen more interests. Writing from a personal style and interest, Susan brings the social scene and personal interests to her readers with wit and insight. Warm, funny, and bright, Susan is a Techie with heart.

Cathy Brooks: An extrovert, Cathy fills the room with her presence. Her writing is insightful, cool and heartfelt, but her skillful use of visuals and video distinguish her. She is a dynamo. Losing her voice from Laryngitis early in the trip, Cathy still could dominate the conversation just with her facial expressions. Her connection to Israel was awakened a few years ago and this trip had a personal and professional impact on Cathy that you will see in her blog posts.

JD Lasica: A veteran journalist who has focused his talents to expand the reach for groups through the use of technology in the media for social and cause based organizations, JD combines visuals and writing masterfully. JD also blogged on the human side of the Israeli/Arab conflict. He was responsible to get the Traveling Geeks website up and running and made a major contribution through that effort, working with Susan Mernit and her contacts.

Sarah Lacy: A savvy business writer and blogger, Sarah can weave her personality and experience of the moment into her stories. She is about to publish a new book on Web 2.0 (if you want to learn about Web 2.0 check out her book) and understands as well as anyone the potential for business with these new capabilities. Ironically, the moment I will always remember to distinguish Sarah is not from her awesome business and writing acumen, but how emotionally affected she was during the prayers of the Christian pilgrims in the Jerusalem Room of Christ?s Last Supper. Her spontaneous emotion revealed more about the power of the religious experience in Jerusalem than any words or visual images could portray.

Deborah Schultz; The most connected, knowledgeable, and active person with Israel and Israelis among us, Deborah is the best to bridge US and Israel reality in her writing. She knows and feels Israel and her writing shows it. A New Yorker who now lives in the strange land of the SF Bay Area,, her passion, insight, and familiarity with Israelis and new technologies make her the perfect blogger to highlight Israel Innovation.

Brad Redderson: As the only podcaster among us, Brad?s work will be mostly developed from the interviews he conducted with thought leaders and tech innovators on his own time away from the activities of the group. Thoughtful, steady, and dependable, Brad was my volunteer partner in putting the trip together with the Israeli Consulate. He contributed greatly to the project. There were lots of bumps along the way before and especially during the trip when Brad and I could easily consult each other about how to solve problems.

View and read the work on Israel Innovation from these extraordinary people at Collectively we hope to contribute to the better understanding of Israel Innovation for those in technology and for those who just want to know more about Israel.

Cisco Israel Uses Tech to Build Tolerance

by on April 19, 2008 at 12:00 pm

Can geographically dispersed teens in Israel and the Mediterranean countries create a web based community to increase their own improvement in school, their self-image (believing in themselves and wanting to change), English proficiency, and more their openness to others? Cisco Israel (a branch of the Global Internet company based in the SF Bay Area) is piloting a program that could be scaled to thousands to find out.

Zika Abzuk-Darnell is Cisco Israel Manager of Public Benefit Investment Europe and Emerging Markets.

She manages the social responsibility team. These are large projects that use technology for economic opportunity. Cisco is investing in youth. Web 2.0 technology is a mirror of Western society: the individual is the one who ventures and connects. In the Middle Eastern and African cultures it is difficult to do a program strictly for individuals. They view themselves as part of family and community.

Zika talked about an intriguing pilot program MYTEC ( Mediterranean Youth Technology club).

MYTEC shows how technology can be used for positive social change?web 2.0 with guidance. This enables students to learn about each other and participate. The teens (14-15 year olds) are recruited from Morocco, Egypt, Yemen, Israel, Palestine, Turkey, Greek Cyprus and Portugal. Religion and ethnic identity play an important role in each country. The challenge is: How to foster the interpersonal skills to create business leaders in a global economy that transcends religion and ethnicity.

Cisco selected young leaders (20-30 year olds) in each country to be the instructors for the teen participants. The company brought 20 of these leaders to Marrakesh to teach them English over a two week intensive training program. They also taught them team building and tolerance of others skills. Together they created and built an Internet platform to relate to the kids. One of the instructors was an Israeli Arab. The Arabs who live outside Israel did not know there were Israeli Arabs. They became a team; the social curriculum they developed for kids they experienced themselves. For example, each instructor brought a game from his country and taught it to the group to play together.

Instructors created a virtual development team. The knowledge of the platform is now In seven out of eight countries. Students are in classrooms twice a week in a community knowledge center equipped with computers to learn English, technology skills, and guided activities to learn about each others? culture. The Moroccan kids created a video of how to cook a Tagine. The Turkish kids tried to cook the dish together. They teach each other songs from their home countries. Using video conference software, they have guided conversations and they can post photos.

However, as with any community site trying to bridge differences during national conflict, there can be problems. For example, one of the Moroccan kids posted a message after 140 people were killed in Gaza that Israelis are slayers. Here is when Instructors showed ownership of the program. They took this example and turned it into a lesson on ethics of how to communicate on the Web. First, the instructors enabled a student debate on rules for posting opinions. Eventually, the students agreed on a protocol for confrontational messages in their web community. They discussed the caricature of Mohammed, what is allowed and freedom of speech; Israeli kids spoke of what they thought should be allowed. The kids in each country had their own debate; they developed ground rules of how to communicate. The kids have become ambassadors of change within communities. They learn technology and volunteer what they learn and open the community center and invite parents.

MYTEC is a good example of how Web 2.0 interactivity can be used for positive social change.

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
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

Off to Israel…

by on April 9, 2008 at 5:00 am

I’m off to Israel to interview a bunch of companies and geeks there. Sorry for the slow blogging, I’ve been having too much fun on Twitter and on FriendFeed. A lot of you have been writing saying that you miss the longer, more thoughtful Scoble so I’ll work on that this next week from Israel. My blog’s redesign will turn on the week I get back, too, on the 21st or so. Over on we’ll have the first part of an interesting look into Rackspace up today. Watch my Qik channel for video dispatches from Israel when I can get on wifi. First stop in Israel? The Kinnernet event which is hosted by Yossi Vardi.

Some things I’m thinking about?

1. The Friend Divide. Much of the new Web 2.0 software really is lame until you get at least 50 friends onto it. air distance calculator What does that mean and how do we make the first experience people have much better (it really sucks, you should sign up for all these new services with a clean account and compare to when you have a bunch of friends). Have we created a new, nasty, world where if you don’t have friends you simply won’t have access to interesting experiences or, even, news?
2. “The 250.” Valleywag derides the early adopter world, saying that only 250 people care about all this new stuff that gets reported on TechMeme. Even if Valleywag’s numbers are off (millions read TechCrunch, for instance) they do have a point. I just spoke to my dad’s Kiwanis Club and many of the people there hadn’t heard of Twitter, Qik, Flickr, or even, gasp, blogs. Most of the world is even further behind — there are five billion people who’ve never owned a computer, for instance. I’m thinking about what that all means and what it means I should do with my blog going forward.
3. Flickr video. Too short. Or long enough? Discuss in 90 seconds or less. :-)

Anyway, have fun. I’ll see you in economy squished into a seat trying to do my email. word cloud . Brasov Restosundsecge .


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