Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Spring in Tel Aviv: Slow, Quiet & Flowery

Winter 2018 is over, spring is here without a roar © D-A Vider 2018

Winter 2018 was dry and quiet. I remember only one small storm without flooding or power outages. So chalk it off to another drought year here in Israel. Spring is not waiting for the last rains to fall. The dry climate here pretty much requires watering all year long. This is especially true this year. There are a few green thumbs with flowering pots in the windows.  But in general Israeli apartment buildings are drab with very few flowering pots popping new flowers in the spring.  My pots are not the greatest by any standard, but this one pot with bulbs in the spring is incredible for two to four weeks. This year flowering started a little early. Probably the few hot days, with temperatures above 25°C (77°F) are fooling mother nature. For my small contribution, at least for the next two weeks, there is a bit of color with the morning kitchen routine. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Cryptocurrency platforms, marketing and technology - Blockchain is live

Crypto-currency marketing talk in Tel Aviv Bitcoin Change, blockchain and ICO is hot topic  © D-A Vider 2018
A few years ago the Bitcoin technology business was the future of Israeli FinTech. But the business side of mining, trading and managing Bitcoins has not turned out as expected. Today the Blockchain technology companies are hot again as platforms for ICOs (Initial Coin Offering), which according to marketing specialists are being announced at the rate of 1,300 per month (estimated global rate, comment from talk). Tel Aviv's ICO meetup night, hosted by Nir Hazzout from the Hello Group covered the marketing aspects of cryptocurrency business. More specifically how to market an ICO once the idea is well defined. Take into account a big assumption about how to get the seed capital and initial product definition on the technical and business side. This apparently is fairly easy to do in Tel Aviv with all the past experience in Bitcoin. 

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Morning Commute by Train: the People's Choice

Typical morning commute by train is effieicnt once you get over the crowded escalators
The last post "the rich people's Masserati" (as I was told) -- got me a few negative comments. It's nice to see luxury cars and talk about celebrities and the once in a while startup millionaire. But what about real daily life? What about public transportation? The buses in Israel are notoriously inefficient. The train system is clogged on rush hour commute and seems to be always stopping for repair or improvement. Car commute can hardly be described better. With clogged arteries resembling an old man's cholesterol ultrasound just before a stent transplant (less then 10% traffic flow). Essentially Israel is always on the move. The last few years, trains started to become a preferable form of transportation. 

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Conspicuous Consumption: Luxury Lifestyle in Israel

Certainly uncommon but not rare: luxury cars like this Maserati are showing up on Tel Aviv streets
Israelis are not big on showing off their wealth. There is still a pioneering socialist attitude from over a century of lifestyle based on socialist values. Israel started shifting from state sponsored socialism in the 1970s, yet signs of the shift are not completely clear from a street view. Luxury items are plentiful in shops, but when it comes to cars, it's a different story. The love affair with cars and driving started here in the 1980s. It started with demand from average Israelis for the first family cars. Subaru from Japan turned out to be the popular brand Israelis could afford. At first Japanese manufacturers (Toyota, Honda, Nissan and Mazda) did not sell due to the Arab boycott. But for the first time family cars were affordable and started the love affair in cars. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Building for Foreign Investment: Israel's Globalization Card

Prime locations in Tel Aviv are developed with an eye at foreign investors and companies 

Globalization has not played a wide ranging role in Israeli business until recently (the last fifteen years). While entrepreneurs were happy to work with foreign investors, and American companies were happy to design and manufacture products here, for the most part, business management was done somewhere else. But the last decade this has changed dramatically. Many foreigners and companies are happy to work, live and collaborate with Israelis. Foreign investment and business collaboration is growing steadily. This is pushing the luxury apartment and office building boom even more than local growth. Israel's government is not tracking and publishing foreign investment in specific sector such as construction. But it is safe to say, there is a sizable contribution from global investors. 

Monday, March 12, 2018

Unequal Wealth: Building Boom is One Consistent Factor

New construction near the central train station, Tel Aviv is filling every nook and cranny with new construction © D-A Vider
Israel's economy has been on an economic growth spurt for over fifteen years. The GDP statistics somehow are not reflecting the reality on the street. The first obvious sign of prosperity is steady building trend, especially in high rise apartments and office buildings. In the central region, there is actually less building than in locations at the edge of Gush Dan (Dan, the central region of Israel). The real estate inflation, especially the residential apartment costs, which were going up at 5% to 8% annually for over a decade. Many visitors to Tel Aviv are surprised by the change in the city in the last five years. Foreign drivers find themselves at a lost when trying to retrace old routes but confused by new construction. In the section of Tel Aviv near Azrielli towers (left white and gray buildings in the photograph) and the central train station, construction is now at a strong growth. A new light rail project with under and above ground tracks is also now in works. So why it seems as if Israel is on an economic growth spurt on the ground but the economists are reporting average of 4% the last 15 years? (see chart below)


Sunday, March 11, 2018

Religion: Guiding the Next Generation's Seculars

A rite of passage: a secular boy's bar mizvah at the wailing wall - a boy is welcomed to the congregation  © D-A Vider 2017
Israel's Jewish orthodoxy and secularism differences is hard to understand from the outside. Israeli supporters sometimes assume people's culture and lifestyle to be mostly governed by religious principles. Israeli detractors see most secular Israelis as non-believing heathens (or at least atheist). Somewhere in between lies real life here. The Jewish orthodoxy in Israel is governed by traditional rituals practiced over two millennium. Some believe these are practices formed over the last four hundred years in the eastern European diaspora. Some practices also come from Arab and near-east countries also formulated over the last five hundred years. On the other hand, secular Judaism is a mix of beliefs and practices which are both derived from orthodox ones and newly invented ones. Some go back only to the early Jewish settlers in Israel a little over a hundred years ago.