Showing posts with label Technology. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Technology. Show all posts

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. 

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Carmel Market Night Life & Legal Graffiti @ TLV #6

Semi-Legal grafitti on Nahalat Binyamin pedestrian street (near Carmel Market)

or Israel's Secret in Economic and Technology Competitiveness- Lively Night Life

When most Tel Avivians curl up under fluffy down comforters (there is a term in Hebrew which describes curling up under a down on a cold night) - parts of the city just start buzzing with activity. Around the Carmel market, Tel Aviv's large open air produce shopping district, cafes, restaurants and all kind of off-beat shops welcome a different kind of crowd. Mostly young, more visitors and European techies than in other parts of Tel Aviv, they start an evening of quiet drinking, eating and sometimes business meetings. These meetings are usually based on personal relationships, more than just meetings held in offices. I call this hidden element in Israeli culture one of Israel's secret technology advantage. Personal connections in business not common anywhere else. While in silicon valley start-ups are well funded and do their business negotiation in modern facilities, when New York entrepreneurs connect in Brooklyn bars, in Boston they have Harvard square out-of-the-way joints, Tel Avivians conduct business over a small plate at night with a beer or cup of coffee.  


Monday, September 2, 2013

Israel Aerospace Industries Launches Amos 4 Communication Satellite

Israel Aerospace Industries Amos 4 Communication Satellite - Sept. 2013
Today (Sept. 1, 2013) Israel Aerospace Industries launched Amos 4, the most advanced communication satellite deployed to date. The 4.2 ton satellite will give Israel a unique position as a communication supplier in Europe, Asia and Africa. Amos 4 will give Sapcecom, the operating company, capability to supply the Israeli government as well as private and governmental customers high bandwidth communication for TV, telecom and Internet services. In addition to traditional broadcast capability, traditional communication services into rual areas. Israel, is one of the leading service providers racing to give governments in Asia and Africa the ability to connect rural areas without the expense of large terrestrial wired and radio based networks.  

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Israeli Start-Ups Get an Edge With UI/UX Expertise

Last night, at The Hub, Barak Danin ( ), a UI/UX expert gave an introduction talk to a sold out crowd. Sometimes we forget how enthusiasm does not completely make up for experience. Israel has a desperate shortage of specialized skills expert. With a strong technology start-up field, UI/UX is a crucial specialty needed to produce successful product the first time out. Yet, as with many key specialties, not many technology entrepreneurs are familiar with UI/UX in product design. The good new comes from seeing Barak Danin spreads his message with ease which only comes with 17 years of experience.  

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Start-up Attraction: ScaleIO and Alvarion: Two Different Tech Exits

ScaleIO was sold recently for $200 million, giving it's founders, owners of 30%, $60 million. Not a bad exit for a new start up. On the opposite side, Alvarion, a publicly traded wireless equipment company is breathing it's last gasps: a bank is taking the company into receivership. Exits in tech start-ups are like watching a slow baseball game. Sometimes they turn exciting, the rest of the time the game is slow and sleepy. ScaleIO is a software only company. This is the kind of bet most Israeli entrepreneurs like to make. Most of the effort is in the code and the marketing. Building real hardware takes more time and usually much more money. Selling something that requires samples and stock is also more complicated. Software is easier to sell from Israel, especially if the target markets are Europe and the US. To contrast, Alvarion is almost completely a hardware company. They are also in a highly competitive networking sector. To add to this, Alvarion put their effort into Wi/MAX, a new format of wireless networking supposedly covering a wide area and solving some problems in WiFi we use today. I don't want to go as far as saying that software only start-ups have a better chance of success than hardware only. It is much more complicated than this.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Two Start-Ups, Different Fortunes (Money and Passion)

“The Globes” (Israel's Business Newspaper) ran a story about “Boxee”, a start-up purchase (see: Globes story ). In this case, Boxee has not returned any profit to it's investors or employees. It seems a little wasteful to work for six year (the company was founded in 2007) and in the end have value of the invested capital as the sale price. Yet in the world of high-technology start-ups, this is not the worst outcome. Actually, this is probably one of the good stories to be told. Since most start-ups do not produce more than one generation of product and close without selling their intellectual property or operations. Contrast this with the large, $1.1 Billion purchase of Waze to Google just a few weeks ago (see: Ha'aretz story or Time Story). Here, the $67 Million investment, returned 16 times to it's investors. These are the fortunes of Israeli start-ups. While the amount of ingenuity and industry ends up as unique and innovative products, their fortunes differ widely. Israeli entrepreneurs are well aware of the risk involved in starting a company and taking millions of dollars from investors, especially in the venture capital market.

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.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Israel Start-Ups Need Change Again

If we can't make chips and iPod accessories, let's go to the beach! Tel Aviv beach with lots of skin and looks. End of summer 2010 / © 2010

In a recent article [here] Ha'aretz reports on failure of Israeli and American venture capital funds to keep the Israeli innovation engine going. To many this is shocking news. To the ones here "on the streets of Tel Aviv" or more accurately in and out of start-ups, this is not news. For a few years now, Israeli venture funds have stopped making investment in new start-ups. To some this is not such a bad turn of events. The attitude towards traditional venture capital has changed dramatically the last few years. From the 1980s to about 2005 American and Israel VC funds have been the most respected and adored organizations in business. But something happened from 2002 to 2007. From the investment perspective, VC funds suddenly "lost their magic dust". Suddenly, instead of making a great deal of money, they lost money. And LOTS OF IT! In a few meetings with small start-ups, most seem to think that Israeli venture funds are looking for safer, which means more mature start-ups. Today, it is harder to get funding for a company with a rough prototype and a good fresh team. Also, it seems like venture funds are avoiding the really new technologies until they are proven. So they miss the front edge of the technology cycle. This accounts for the very few WEB2.0, cloud computing, mobile devices (iPod/iPhone accessories) and display (LED, OLED) start-ups in Israel. The Israeli government, through innovation incubators and the office of the chief scientist have tried to get early stage start-ups going. They have programs for seed investment with almost no strings attached. As long as you have a good idea that you can get into a prototype form they will get you started.


Saturday, May 29, 2010

Technology Development Is Heating Up Again

Malcolm Gladwell's Tipping Point tells the story of how messages travel in networks. His is the modern day observation of the power in people networks. His observation is more on how social messages affect our way of making decisions in life.

Business in Israel is both isolated and connected with the outside world. It is isolated because there is no real connection with any of the border states. Arab states are different culturally and the political divide continues to make any business relationship difficult. On the connected side, Israel has strong ties with European, American, African and Asian counties. Culturally, Israel is most similar to European countries. So are business practices. Business wise, Israel is closest to the US. This is especially true in the technology sector. There is more synergy between Israeli technology companies and Americans than any other area here.


Friday, March 12, 2010

Can Israeli Technologists Make THE Peace with Palestinians? (A Ghost Story)

If you are a follower of Israeli start-up scene you probably heard the story of Ghost. This is a virtual desktop start-up that just folded it's doors [start-up mania article] The idea was to offer the latest technology to replace the desktop in a cloud computing platform. The start-up was a collaboration of Israelis and Palestinians on a large scale. Large scale in terms of start-ups in Israel that is. For the first time Israeli investors and executives used Palestinian programmers. This was a big deal here. Most people were worried and suspicious. First of all, who has ever heard of successful Palestinian programmers? Actually, who ever heard of any Palestinian programmers??? This kind of thinking is what made the project such a anomaly to begin with. The company was in management and financial terms Israeli, but the work was "outsourced" to the west bank.


Friday, December 4, 2009

Do We need Innovation? Moving Forward in Israel, Can We Teach Others?

Two recent books show Israel's economic and technology strength touch on the Israel's development of innovation skills. Israel Test is written from the economic perspective by George Gilder a technology writer and thinker [book page]. Start-Up Nation by Dan Senor and Saul Singer two journalists focusing more on Israeli innovation in the form of start-up companies [book page]. Some think of Israeli innovation and technological adventurness in cultural terms. Is innovation such a critical element in Israel's economic success? How is economic success drive cultural and lifestyle success? Is everyone in Israel just concerned with the money and innovation? Or is it the other way around and innovation changed the Israeli culture somehow? I will try to touch on these questions in upcoming posts, this one will introduce innovation in Israel and expand on areas which you will probably have to be here in person to see.

If you spend time in Israel it becomes clear how innovation is not an inbred attribute. Nobody is born with the "innovation gene" or at least the trait comes in so many different shapes and types it is hard to figure out who has the gene. True, there are many start-ups, some even make it big, but most people work in "regular jobs". There are plenty of traditional businesses, these give the country it's stability. Innovation in technology still needs a solid base economically, roads need to be paved and government needs to run and grow at it's own rate. But there is something unique here that many people do not see right away. It's change, here it happens quickly and clearly. If you are following the economy, change came quickly when financial markets crashed in the US and than at the rest of the world. Somehow in Israel we saw it clearly and noticed how our economy slowed down. Tourists use to come to Israel in large numbers, when they stopped coming the economy declined and tourism workers went scrambling for new jobs. Follow politics and state security issues and notice change even faster. When Israel signed peace agreements with Egypt, the Palestinians and than Jordan everyone was happy, but only for a short while. Government was in a high after each agreement but then Israel went back to daily reality and euphoria settled down to regular everyday state. When Israel gets ready for elections there is buzz all over the world, some hope for the big savior (peace maker,) some fear extremist warrior. As soon as the elections are over, it is quiet once again. This cycle of change is a recent memory with the Netanyahu/Liberman government. Replacing Olmert/Livni with such extremist was suppose to bring chaos to the land - I don't think anyone would stick by their predictions today. Change is what makes Israelis innovate. Change makes people look for new ways to do things everywhere in the world, just here people scramble faster. That is what gives Israelis an edge. When engineers come out of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) they are already well equipped to innovate because they dealt with change, sometimes on a massive scale. Imagine what it's like to go from calm to war in one month. The Israeli army goes through this change every few years. A war erupts by surprise or they are asked to go into enemy territory. The last two years both happened in the north and the south. Not only reserve soldiers have to be called, equipment has to be moved to the front and the whole operation of an army has to start, intelligence and communication has to be operational in an instant. The speed of change in Israel is amazing, and one way to deal with it is innovate.


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Israeli Tech On Hold: VCS, Exits & Eggs

It is not a secret that the Israeli technology sector is taking a nap. A big component of Israel's success in the technology sector was start-ups. Israel's entrepreneurs and engineers got into the business of starting up companies and selling them to American companies. This business has been going for over 10 years until about 2005. American venture funds bring investment capital from Wall Street and American retirement funds. Israelis start companies and usually sell them to American companies. The return in this sector is usually higher than the stock market. Everyone is happy. Until something changed!

In 2006, 2007 and 2008 there have been very few "exits". 2009 is not much better. These are sales of companies or initial public offerings in the stock market. Exit(s) is a buzz word in the Israeli start-up sector. It is what Israeli entrepreneurs seek more than anything else: cash for a 5 to 10 year hard work. Selling a company brings good returns to the investors and does not involve the process of taking a company public. But the shift in technology from software and networking to Internet and software services has slowed down the investment-development-exit train. Established venture capital funds were dealt a blow, many small ones are completely gone. Entrepreneurs in many tech sub-sectors needed to reformulate their ideas and start working on new prototypes. What Israel can teach the world is how quickly change happens. In US and other large markets change does not have to happen as quickly. The market's momentum can hold up companies and financial pipelines. But then they eventually crash. In Israel small scale reveals quickly what changed and where the new developments are going.


Friday, October 16, 2009

Shift Your Image of Tel Aviv (Part 3): Technology Business, Seminars

Israel has a great technology reputation. Intel Israel and the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) give us a reputation of solid and innovative technologists. There are about 20 internationally known Israeli companies, some connected with bigger American companies. Less known is the rest of the Israeli technology world from top ranked education in the Technion to government driven start-up funds. Meetings among Israeli technologists is an interesting local phenomena. Most people who come from other countries wonder how we can have productive meetings that satisfy everyone. In 2008 the hi-tech sector in Israel went through a very low period, many meetings were canceled or required an entrance fee. As the market recovers, there is somewhat of a recovery and the meetings are back "on". Meetings and conferences are usually free to attendees, they are paid for by exhibitors (suppliers to the specific field.) I went to the IT-SMF yearly show where this year they awarded a prize to the company most successful in implementing ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) - a set of procedures and practices to improve IT quality. This is the first time the group honored a company with a prize. There were three contenders: Pelphone, the city of Petach Tikva and the international support group at Comverse. Pelephone won the award this year with the other two getting second place (I guess they scored close.)


Sunday, September 13, 2009

George Gilder on Israel and World Economy

I usually write and photograph what I see and hear personally. It seems useful for readers to read and see from first hand accounts. This article and book came from a friend in Sunnyvale CA (DG). DG follows the technology investment world and has been involved in investing for over 20 years. He is also deeply aware of the image Israel has in the media and I suppose wonders who is behind the hard to explain gap between Israeli contribution to the technology business world and the negative portrayal of Israel in the media. This is an excerpt from an interview with George Gilder about his recent book and conference "The Israel Test". [Amazon].

This is an excerpt from the Gilder interview on the site/blog [original here].

Frontpage Interview’s guest today is George Gilder, an active venture capitalist, [Gilder/Forbes Telecosm Conference host], co-founder of the Discovery Institute in Seattle, and the author of 15 books. His new book is The Israel Test.

FP: George Gilder, welcome to Frontpage Interview.

Tell us what the Israel Test is.

Gilder: The world faces it. It tests one’s response to excellence and achievement. Do you envy and resent people who excel you? Or do you admire and emulate them?

In the 20th Century, this test chiefly applied to Jews around the world. But today Israel epitomizes the excellence and accomplishment of Jewish culture. It is hated by anti-Semites not because of any moral flaws or legal infractions but because of its manifest virtues which show up and shame the forces of mediocrity everywhere.

FP: Illuminate for us the successes of Israel.

Gilder: Of all the nations in the world, Israel ranks first in per capita achievement and excellence. By any per capita measure it is preeminent, whether in technological innovation and invention, venture capital investment and creativity, share of GDP produced by technology companies, or number and quality of scientific papers. But even more impressive, Israel ranks second only to the U.S. in companies on the NASDAQ stock exchange and in achievements in such fields as telecom, microchips, software, biotech, medical instruments, and clean-tech. Israel today
represents and symbolizes capitalist excellence and freedom.

FP: Israel has a powerful and progressive government. Why does the left hate Israel so much?

Gilder: The left loved Israel as long as it was socialist and utopian, pacifist and beleaguered. The left loved the Kibbutzim with their fatuous and always unfulfilled dreams of transcending family and property. The left loves Jews as victims. When Israel emerged as a leading capitalist state, capable of defending itself from deadly enemies, and pragmatic in its policies, the Left turned against it.

But whether in Russia, Hungary, Germany, or Israel itself, socialism has always brought catastrophe for Jews. Socialism focuses on gaps between groups rather than on achievements of superior individuals. Socialism concentrates on equalizing excellence rather than promoting it. Historically, equalizing excellence has always meant suppression of Jews. This rule applies everywhere, whether by quotas as in the United States, or by pogroms in Stalin’s nationalities policy designed to equalize ethnic groups in the USSR.

FP: But isn’t hatred of Israel chiefly an effect of anti-Semitism?

Gilder: Anti-Semitism is chiefly a virulent form of anti-capitalism. In my book I closely scrutinize Hitler’s Mein Kampf . His fundamental objection to Jews is their superiority to Aryans as capitalists, as financiers, as entrepreneurs, as “middlemen.” Thomas Sowell has shown in several books that during bad times such hostility to “middleman minorities” flares up wherever an identifiable ethnic group outperforms the rest of the population in the economy. In Asia the overseas Chinese have so dominated Moslem economies and incurred such brutal massacres that they are called “the Jews of Asia.” But the overseas Chinese are so numerous that Jews might well be termed the “overseas Chinese” of Europe.

FP: Is Israel a battlefield? What is the battle over?

Gilder: It is over the survival of democratic capitalism and freedom. The Israelis just face the battle more directly and undeniably. But ultimately the battle is over the survival of the United States as a free nation and global influence.

The golden rule of capitalism is that the good fortune of others is also one’s own. Wealth does not cause poverty or environmental degradation or ethnic oppression. It opens horizons of opportunity for all. Without recognition of this rule capitalism cannot prosper, whether in Europe, Israel or the United States.

FP: The left claims that this is like saying that the United States produced a golden age for the native American Indians or even that bringing slaves to the U.S created a golden age for African blacks in America. They even offer an analogy between the American Revolution and the Palestinian Intifadas? How do you answer these arguments?

Gilder: Unlike the African blacks, the two million Arab Palestinians settled freely and prosperously on the West Bank and in Gaza, attracted by the economic opportunities created by the Israeli settlers before Bill Clinton and the UN surrendered the hapless Palestinians to the control of Yasir Arafat by making the PLO the world’s leading foreign aid recipient. Unlike the Indian tribes on the American continent who for awhile underwent violent displacement and deadly diseases, the Palestinian Arabs drastically improved their health and wealth under Israeli administration. Unlike the U.S. colonies, moreover, if the Arab Palestinians had desired a state, they could have created one peacefully at any time. From 1948 to
1967, the territories were under the control of Jordan and Egypt, without any gesture toward statehood.

If the Arabs wish to live in peace with Israel, they can work out any number of different forms of constitution and self rule. The eventual solution should include some kind of federation of the Arab Palestinians with Jordan, which was formed essentially as a state for the Palestinians. It is only Arab hatred toward the Israeli state that makes an Arab Palestinian state currently impossible and undesirable.

FP: We see, on many fronts, the West crumbling in the face of the Islamic jihad. Could the rescuer be Israel? If so, then, in the long run, the U.S. might need Israel just as much as Israel needs the U.S., no?

Gilder: In World War II, just a comparatively few Jewish scientists saved the West by leading and executing the Manhattan project that created the atomic bomb. Jewish scientists also played a key role in the prosperity of the United States which has been heavily fueled by the rise of the computer industry. All computers are based on the essential architecture invented by John von Neumann and most microchips use the field effect transistor invented by Julius Edgar Lilienfeld in the 1920s. Over the last several decades, U.S. technological leadership has been heavily dependent on Jewish inventions and Israeli designs. Intel has so benefited from its Israeli talent that its chips could be labeled “Israel Inside.”

Today, while the U.S. suffers from economic and financial turbulence and recession, Israel is developing into what is perhaps the world’s most creative and promising economy. Benjamin Netanyahu is the world’s most knowledgeable and experienced warrior against terrorism and most learned economic leader from his early days at the Boston Consulting Group. Israel is vital both to the future of American capitalism and to its defense.

FP: What are your thoughts on Obama’s treatment of Israel?

Gilder: Obama is becoming nearly irrelevant to Israel. He knows little or nothing true about Israel or its history and he is incredibly na├»ve about Israel’s enemies. As long as he does not deprive Israel of indispensable military support, he probably will not do irreparable harm. At present, I think he is furtively ducking his Israel test and trying to farm it out to Rahm Emmanuel.

At some point, Obama is going to have to recognize that an Iran that is willing to bomb Israel can also destroy American cities. There is no chance for peace unless the U.S. moves massively and conspicuously toward war with Iran or the Israelis succeed in destroying or frustrating Iran’s nuclear goals.

As I explain in my book, pacifists in power nearly always blunder into war.


Monday, May 11, 2009

IBM Haifa Research Lab

Yesterday in Tel Aviv University, IBM Haifa Research Lab presented an introduction to their work [talk announcement]. IBM is the last of the behemoth's with a fully dedicated research lab. Gone are the days of pure research for the sake of "good for humanity and the world". Xerox research labs in Palo Alto California brought us windows, the mouse, laser printers and Ethernet networking. AT&T research labs in New Jersey brought us the transistor, Unix and the big bang. IBM brought us DRAMS, Hard Disk Drives, databases and sophisticated CAD for IC design. So what is so special about IBM research lab? specially in 2009? It is probably smaller and more practical in it's research projects. The talk covered six very different topics from AIDS gene database for determining therapy effectiveness all the way to cloud computing.
IBM has kept the research labs around the world going by directing them to more practical research in areas where IBM can develop a business. Researchers sometimes do not know where their work is going to end up. From past experience, it also seems that the researchers and the companies funding the work are not the biggest beneficiaries from the work. IBM seems to think that there is a way to change this. There are many areas in IT and computing where IBM's past leadership can direct future work. There are also new directions which IBM can use it's unique position in developing large systems and collaborating on a global scale.
Israel is one of the centers for technology research and development. Companies like IBM, Intel, Microsoft are aware of the high caliber technologist coming from Universities in Israel. While Israel is a small country in comparison to India, China and the US, there are still good number of people to tap for innovation and research. Like other business efforts in technology, research is not a sure thing. You have to take a chance, make and effort and hope that the work will yield something good - IBM thinks this is a worth while effort and they are doing it again and longer than others. If you are interested in the Haifa seminars, take a look at their web site and keep track of upcoming talks.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

More computers not getting along with politicians

Likud primaries extended until 1:00 AM. Delays in the voting stations due to the computerized voting machines. The machines work fine, the voters take longer time and there are just not enough computerized voting stations. Is computerized voting not really ready for prime time? A G A I N ?

Today the Likud party in Israel is having it's primaries. The primaries will determine who will represent the party on the Knesset (house of representatives). Remember the Labor party's two day delay? (just few days ago?) In the Labor's case the computers "crashed" completely. In the Likud primary they simply did not have enough voting "booths". The booths are computer touch screens with pictures of the candidates. They identify a voter with his/her identity number (mispar zehut) which makes voting safer and simpler. For the first time, voters can vote anywhere in Israel. If you are on vacation in Eilat and registered in Haifa, no problem. With all this hi-tech in the political world, the politician's common sense has taken a back seat. Likud got their computers to work, so people did come and wanted to vote in large numbers. But they forgot one thing, when people show up at the voting booth, most times they don't "just vote" (right away). Voters tend to dilly-dally, think again, take their time... so what's the problem? Well, when you have cardboard boxes with a slot, NO PROBLEM. The line gets long, people start making noises of "what's the heck is going on up there..." You can go the corner of the room, get another box, put in another voting station, you are set.

Likud web site with news about the extended hours of the votes

In the case of the computerized system, which actually worked fine, there were just not enough voting station. Apparently the computer designers assumed that each voter will take 3 minutes to complete his/her voting. Maybe because of the new, modern, fancy systems, maybe because of the issues involved, maybe because the turn out was high, maybe, maybe, maybe... people took longer, much MUCH LONGER. In some cases reports of 15 minutes per voter was the modus operendi. That made the lines starting at 5 PM much longer and some people turned around and went home. But the election committee decided to remedy the problem. First they thought of opening the voting stations tomorrow. I think that keeping everything on hold for another day was too complicated. Even with computers the party's voting organization was probably not ready for this unforeseeable disruption.

Sticker calling for unified voice in the city of Jerusalem - did it work for Likid?

In Jerusalem a phone company fiber optic cable was cut due to construction, so voting was shut down for two hours. In addition, voters in Jerusalem came out in high numbers. For the first time in years orthodox lined up along Muslim and secular Jews. Likud used this as a sign of success of their message and maybe the overall push to come back against the other parties.

The moral of the story: You can vote with computers, for real! Computers are here for elections in Israel. They may not be here for "the real thing" (national general elections). The national elections may not be with computers this time but certainly will be here for the next primary elections in the coming term. Maybe Israeli computer companies will be the big computerized election providers to the world ~ or maybe . . .

AmiV from Tel Aviv (@the White City)

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Foreign currency trading volume... and exporting COMPANIES?

The last post was about the decline of the dollar. Israel has been dependent on the mighty dollar for a long time. I started to notice that regardless of the decline of the dollar, or even due to it's decline, Israel is moving slowly and systematically away from too much dependence on the US economy and it's currency. One thing that would be interested to notice is what amounts of trade we are talking about. The Israel Bank (the government's) statistics show a total trade of 54 billion dollars was exchanged in all foreign currency last year (2007). For the year before (2006) the amount was 36.6 billion dollars and for the before that (2005) it was 28 billion dollars ($16B in 04). Well, this trend shows that Israel has increased it's trade by 48% the last year and by 193% over the last two years. Nice numbers, which would mean, that the dollar's decline is even more important to the economy and each Israeli citizen's pocket. But in the numbers there is a bigger trend, Israel is trading in a much larger rate than ever before. So while the dollar is declining, the amount is going up. Overall, the dollar's decline has an impact on individuals and companies, but the growth in total amount is more important. This is what you see in the offices and conference centers the last two years.

Ten shekels, worth 16% more the last six months... and going up!
The growth of business export in Israel is not only growing, it is also changing the way Israelis work. This trend of cooperation on a global basis is copied from American and European companies. But it also fits well with the international makeup of the Israeli work force. It is also a reflection of the pent-up desire to build a richer economy outside the limitation of a small country in the transition from 3rd world to a modern economy. The unique situation in Israel is based strictly on skills and creativity. Israel has developed a system of exporting companies, projects, management, and intellectual property. This is probably the most enviable position in the export world. While China needs to build factories and train workers, Saudi Arabia needs to pump and store crude oil, and Argentina needs to develop agriculture, Israel needs to put in networking infrastructure and build office complexes. The strategy of building companies and developing research and development organizations has been in the works in Israel for more than 30 years. Intel has come to build their first manufacturing plant out of the US in 1974. The office of the chief scientist (Israel government agency) have been supporting "technology incubators" since 1991. The office of Export and International Cooperation has resources, specially for small Israeli companies, to find experts for starting and growing international business.
Israel Export and International Cooperation Agency
These and other agencies all look for outside help, which means, strong push for companies from all over the world to work, invest, and cooperate with Israeli companies. It all adds up to what is going on here, exporting COMPANIES! It started with selling start-ups to American technology companies and now it has spread to Asian technology and international bio-med and pharma companies. So, if you have dollars and are worried about the value in New Israeli Shekels, don't worry so much, you can always buy an Israeli stock and see your worth go up. Or if you have a bit more to invest, get a few Israeli entrepreneurs together and sell your company to a Korean tech firm in a few years. Read More...