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.