Saturday, October 30, 2010

Israeli Economic Shift: Less Start-Ups, Bigger Investments (Globes™ top 10)

New Motorola building in the Airport City industrial complex. The new shopping complex which opened a year ago is bringing new life to this large office and warehouse complex. / © 2010

Israel's economy is going through a tectonic shift. Small start-ups and small venture capital firms are disappearing. Big start-ups (US$ 10 million) and big venture firms are holding on. Darwinian survival of the fittest is hitting hard the Israeli start-up world, the lucky few survive, but many are dead or dying. In a recent article picking the top ten start-ups The Globes™ newspaper picked the year's most promising candidates. This is their sixth year of picking the top 10 start-ups and their past record is pretty good. The shift from many small start-ups to few big ones is driven by outside factors. Mostly the collapse of the American venture capital industry which brought a sharp drop in technology investments. As the old saying goes: "when the American venture capital industry catches a cold, Israeli start-ups catches pneumonia". Most of Israel's smaller venture capital firms have closed in the last four years. Investments in small start-ups has dropped to a trickle.

The Globes™ 2010 ten most promising start-ups*:

Rank Company CEO Funding [US$]
1 Provigent Dan Charash 55
2 Prime Sense Inon Beracha 29.4
3 WIX Avishai Abrahami 20
4 Waze Noam Baradin 12
5 Panaya Yosi Cohen 22
6 Solar Edge Guy Sela 60
7 Broad Light Raanan Gewirtzman 30
8 Work Light Shahar Kaminitz 17
9 Life Bond Ishay Attar 9.5
10 Aero Scout Yuval Bar-Gil 70
* from printed Globes article, 25-25 October, 2010

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Texas Instruments and Red Hat conferences in Tel Aviv

Texas Instruments' technical conference drew 300 embedded engineers. Good news for Israelis and the company. The embedded processor (microcontroller) field is fractured with over twenty suppliers. TI is bringing their expertise in DSP to the Israeli engineering world. / © 2010

Last week Texas Instruments (TI) and Red Hat (earlier this week) held their annual conferences in Tel Aviv. Both companies announced new developments. Texas Instruments (TI) has revamped their controller and microprocessor lines. Red Hat is going to announce their Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 (RHEL6) in a few weeks. The TI conference was a relatively small meeting with about 300 attendees. TI has not been a big microprocessor and microcontroller supplier until now. The Israeli market is small but strong in embedded devices. This makes a day conference with presentation from key corporate executives a crucial market presence. The Red Hat conference was attended by 1,200 people. Matrix, Red Hat's distributor in Israel, announced their 600th enterprise customer, which is over 50% growth the last year. Overall, Red Hat's low price and strong support, has been successful in today's weak IT market. Spending on IT is still low relative to the early 2000 spending rate. Red Hat competes with Microsoft selling enterprise servers to corporate customers, Fortune 1000 companies.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Update on Iben Gvirol and The Coffee Bean Closure

At ''The Gregg Cafe'' in Dizengoff center, the manager's dog has it's own ''personal'' table. Not a common and acceptable practice, it is still telling of the informal feel of Israeli cafes. Not so with ''The Coffee Bean'' and regular laptop workers in 2009 / © 2010

About a year ago bloggers in Israel made some noise about working in cafes. They were grumbling about cafes being hostile toward people who sat and worked using laptops. Some cafes at the time did not offer free WiFi or did not have AC plugs to connect laptops power supplies. Tel Avivians love their cafes and to some it is their living room and office apartment extensions. A virtual (or actually real?) home-office away from home. In central Tel Aviv, where apartment prices are beyond belief, many people live in tiny apartments. Some work from home, that means sometimes working from the local cafe when they meet customers or clients. The American coffee chain " The Coffee Bean (& Tea Leaf)" had a nice big cafe on Iben Gvirol in front of Gan Ha'ir commercial complex. I wrote about The Coffee Bean's up and down policy toward laptop users. Around 2008 the Israeli high-tech sector collapsed. No new investment in start-ups caused companies to lay off thousands of workers. These were software engineers and professional support workers (salesman and marketers, human resource, administrators) as well as related professionals.


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Israel's Number One Green Energy: Solar Water Heaters

Tel Aviv skyline from the fifth floor. Notice solar collectors facing south (to the right) and hot water water tanks / © 2010

One of Israel's most popular green energy technology is passive solar water heating. On each apartment building roof you see solar collectors and a water tank. Every apartment owner puts this small contraption and all the hot water for drinking, washing and bathing comes for free. At least eight months a year, there is no need to heat water with anything but the sun. Passive solar water heating has been used in Israel for decades. Solar collectors were popular since the 1950s, but the fuel crisis of 1973 lead to a law passed in 1967 which every new apartment must install a passive solar water heater. The only exceptions are high rise buildings where the roof is too small to accommodate all the residents. Today 95% of Israeli households use solar water heating. It accounts for 4% of the energy use overall. (see Wikipedia entry for solar water heaters: HERE)


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Update on New Port of Tel Aviv, Dizengoff and Yermiyahu Streets

Kaf-Gimel Yordei Ha'sira streets is a tiny two block street at the entrance of the new Tel Aviv port. A small detail commented in earlier article. Tel Aviv has so many little details, we sometime forget until reminded.

I have been meaning to write updates on lots of places mentioned before on the blog and cover new ones. After getting a strange comment on the New Port of Tel Aviv article fron 2007 I was nudged to get started. The last few weeks I went to the new Tel Aviv port on Saturday nights. Tel Aviv starts buzzing again after the sabbath as evening comes. This year, fall has been warmer than usual and no real rain yet. Some people want the summer to be over already, with temperatures in the 30°s Celsius (85 to 95 °F) most of us can understand the complaints. It's been a hot summer and as we near November we hoped for cooler weather. This year the heat was so strong it affected vegetable prices. Poor farmers were getting very low yields and the vegetables were small and dry. Last month prices went up three to four times normal, even the government was wondering what was happening and investigated the problem.


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Satire (cartoon clip) about the Gilad Shalit popular views

I stumbled across this video (on another blog) about views of different Israelis negotiating with Hamas over Gilad Shalit. As an Israeli I am sure that it is funny, in certain places. Each of us has a way of laughing at certain characters in everyday Israeli life. Overall, the clip is also disturbing, that's what satire is all about. It has the mother character (second to speak), the Israeli negotiator (main character) and various prototypical Israelis (Facebook geeks, techno geek (called "talk back" like comments on blogs), army buddy and dark song writer.) A disturbing thought comes across: how in the press and in private conversations we have all kind of banal excuses for keeping a man in a hole for years. The political view in Israel is continuously debated. The characters in the clip are familiar to most Israelis. It ends with a "calculation" of the amount of Palestinian prisoners for Israeli soldiers (and one Israeli drug smuggler.) If you have a sense of humor... or are interested in Israeli opinions on the exchange issue... ENJOY!