from the December 2013 issue

Waze CEO: Israel will have many more billion dollar exits

The combination of strong products workers and high tech in Israel will make it possible to achieve more unicorn companies.

"In the past ten years, 39 companies joined the unicorn club (companies that achieved an exit of over $1 billion). Only one Israeli company belongs to this club, and it is Waze," Waze CEO Noam Bardin told a meeting of Tmura - The Israeli Public Service Venture Fund. Waze was acquired by Google Inc. (Nasdaq: GOOG) for $1 billion earlier this year.

"Although Israel has a great many start-ups, the numbers are not proportionate. In the past ten years, 6,000 start-ups were founded in Israel, but there was only one unicorn," said Bardin. "Part of the historical reason for this is the lack of skill in allocating products. But Israel now has better skilled people in products in the industry, as well as programmers and engineers.

"The combination of strong product workers and high tech in Israel will make it possible to achieve more unicorns, and the management of these companies will not have to fear going to the US at a point at which this can help their companies succeed.

"Israeli cynicism is a key element. For example, the concept of Instagram, which is to take pictures of food, would never have succeeded in Israel. Cynicism creates a high threshold for a reasonable business model. In addition, the average age of managers at unicorn companies in the past ten years has been 34, not 19 or 20 as many people think. This means that experience is the important factor that creates change in the high-tech industry. Israeli cynicism, combined with a practical approach and management experience, and above this the creativity and technical experience, makes Israel fertile ground for technology that people really want.

Reprinted from the Israel High-Tech & Investment Report December 2013

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