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Israel: Startup & Cyber Security World Player

How Has Israel Become One of the World’s Biggest Players in the World of Startups, Cyber Technology and Security?

Even as the city of Jerusalem overwhelms one with a sense of ancient history and wonder, the modern, bustling cities of Haifa, Be'er Sheva and Tel Aviv make history in the realm of cyber technology and security.

Israel is a paradox of science, faith, thought, purpose, mystery, modernity and antiquity. Some people think of Israel in terms of religion and theology, as it has long been held sacred by the three major Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Others think of it in terms of the geopolitical conflict that has wracked it for decades.

Today, Israel is gaining a new reputation as more people begin to think of it as a pioneer in cyber technology and security; a field for major players like Google and IBM, and a region where startups are the hottest commodity for investors. Saul Klein, a London-based venture capitalist, and recently appointed tech envoy to Israel from the United Kingdom, said of the small but mighty nation, “it is Silicon Valley for the rest of the world.”  

Klein isn’t the only one making such statements about Israel’s role in cyber technology and security.  Udi Mokady, CEO of CyberArk Software recently opined, “Everybody understands that you buy Swiss watches from Switzerland and information security from Israel.”

In fact, the Israel of today is having a significant impact on technology and globalization in the 21st century. Though most people are unaware, during the past 30 years, Israel has been quietly but methodically contributing to technology and, as a result, has moved into the forefront of technological advancement.

Major enterprises like IBM, Microsoft, Google, Apple, Oracle, Motorola, HP, and Facebook maintain research facilities in Israel and venture capitalists like Klein are taking great interest in the small, but powerful, epicenter of cyber technology and computer science as billion dollar deals, such as the purchase of the popular Israeli startup Waze by Google, become more frequent.

Microsoft executive Zack Weisfeld estimates that roughly $13 billion in tech acquisitions have taken place since 2012. Weisfeld said, “Over the last 18 months, the number of (Israeli tech) acquisitions has been staggering.”

So how is it that Israel has become such a leader in the world of startups and technology?

A topic of speculation among journalists and technology leaders alike for some time, most agree that Israel’s rise to the top in the tech world is a combination of circumstance and good old fashioned pluck.

Some call it a mere act of survival. After all, the tiny nation has been on the defense for decades, endeavoring to protect and serve its 7.9 million inhabitants. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) have come up with innovative ways to garner and secure intelligence, as well as to solve problems that others have deemed impossible to solve, while the enrollment of young, idealistic Israelis, both men and women, into the industrial spirit of the IDF is also deemed an important element.

The IDF utilizes a number of technologies that were developed in Israel specifically for the use of the military, many of which are hi tech weapons and security systems. Since 1967 the IDF has also had close military relations with the United States, which has included development of defense systems.

Other speculators attribute Israel’s technological success to the inflow of tech-wise immigrants from Russia in the 1990s, and still others cite the fact that Israel was founded by so many intellectuals and scientists, thus creating a basis of innovation as the cultural framework of a small and growing nation.

Finally, one formidable force says it’s all about Israeli moms. Yossi Vardi, angel investor, founding father of Israel’s high tech industry, and de facto spokesperson, gained his reputation as Israel’s stellar startup investor when he, his son Arik, and three of Arik’s friends sold their company Mirabilis to America Online (AOL) for $407 million, a staggering sum in 1998, and one that influenced the development of roughly 6000 additional Israeli startups, a phenomenon that many refer to as “the Mirabilis Effect”.

Vardi credits his mom, and all Israeli mothers, with being the prevailing force behind Israel’s impressive hi tech success. Of Israeli moms, Vardi jokes, “All Israeli kids know that their mother will tell them, ‘after all that we’ve done for you, is asking for one Nobel Prize really too much?

Regardless of the reasons, Israel is without a doubt a world leader in cyber security and technology, a fact that many will be discussing at the Cybertech 2014 International Exhibition and Conference to be held in January 27-29 in Tel Aviv. Would-be attendees will be delighted to find that reservations are now open and representatives from all over the world will be attending.

 

 

Alan Kahn is a cybersecurity enthusiast and contributing freelance writer for Cybertech Israel 2014 – Cyber Security Conference and Exhibition

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Alan Kahn

Alan Kahn is a cybersecurity enthusiast and contributing freelance writer for Cybertech Israel 2014 – Cyber Security Conference and Exhibition

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