Adam Henderson

AlmaLinks: The Silicon Sabra

A view of Jerusalem's Mount of Olives from the Greek Compound in Abu Tor. (Sue Surkes/Times of Israel staff)
A view of Jerusalem's Mount of Olives from the Greek Compound in Abu Tor. (Sue Surkes/Times of Israel staff)

Yoni Leitersdorf, a Jerusalem native, is making a storm in Silicon Valley and revolutionizing how big companies manage their IT infrastructure with his company indeni, but the 33-year old still manages to keep in touch with his homeland, partly thanks to AlmaLinks, a non-profit that connects Jewish and Israeli business leaders.

Leitersdorf started developing software from a young age before serving for five years in the prestigious 8200 intelligence unit of the Israeli Defense Force. He led a team which specialized in Information Security and one of the projects he managed won the Israel Security Prize.

”My entire career has been leveraged around how we can get computers to do more for us.” Leitersdorf said. “I started developing software at age six and I’ve been thinking about it since that age. I’ve been into automation since then and I’ve noticed that computers can do two things very well for us; one is doing repetitive tasks consistently and two is reaching conclusions that humans can’t – all very quickly.”

Yoni Leitersdorf

indeni’s unique software analyses companies’ IT infrastructure to prevent outages. Already their service has been taken up by many large businesses including credit-card issuers, cell phone chains, banks, retailers, foreign exchange services, gambling and even gas stations.

“We want to drastically reduce outages which can affect these businesses.” Leitersdorf said. “The prevalent cause – of over 70% of outages – is human error. These mistakes can come from a variety of reasons such as being stressed or lacking manpower. Our technology focuses on eliminating these issues. Our software knows what are the common mistakes and the best practices to follow. Based on that we can advise them how to improve.”

“All the business a company does goes through their IT infrastructure. If anything happens to this infrastructure they lose money – and naturally they are very stressed about that! So our technology is really a great fit for so many businesses. Every large brand requires a lot of infrastructure; therefore they are either a customer of ours or a potential customer of ours.”

“The most common way customers come to us is by Google-ing the issue they ran into after having an outage – which happens quite regularly. They do something called a root cause analysis because they’re trying to figure out what was the source of the outage. They then realize what the cause was and often find its one of the same things we’re capable of tracking so they decide to try the software.”

“Long term my plan is that we are going to be installed in every single large enterprise on the planet. Whether it’s Fortune 1000 or Global 2000, we’re going to be installed across their entire infrastructure. Our goal is to solve human error for these organizations and we’re making very nice headway towards that.

Although indeni still retains a R&D center and a large part of their operations in Tel Aviv, Leitersdorf moved the main part of his business – as well as his wife and three young children – to America three years ago. The family initially settled in New Jersey before moving to California.

”I got here in May 2013,” he said, “We chose New Jersey because we were just starting to sell our product and a lot of our customers were in the East Coast. A year into it we moved to California because all the talent that we wanted, other start-ups and potential partners – basically everybody who is relevant is based or has a presence there. So we decided to come and set our office up in San Francisco.”

Living outside Israel can take its toll in certain ways; “I can see my Hebrew is starting to get a bit rusty,” Leitersdorf admitted. “I have some people I can talk to here but I notice I’m starting to forget words. It’s a little worrying!”

However, one way he manages to keep in touch with Israel and the high-tech industry in his homeland is through AlmaLinks. With around 40 members in Silicon Valley already and a new chapter launching in San Francisco, it connects the many Israeli’s in the Bay Area to a global Jewish business network.

”I initially got involved through a buddy of mine who met Tomer Sapir [AlmaLinks founder] and they spoke about the project. He told me Tomer was enthusiastic and full of energy and working on a new project to try and connect Jews around the world.”

”It’s a great organization and I’d highly recommend it to other people. I’m used to meeting people that work in high-tech and everyone around me works in that. The great thing about AlmaLinks is that you get to meet people from completely different fields. They come with a radically different view of things and it’s very interesting.”

”It has been able to help me and I’ve also been able to help a couple of other people that I met at events through making introductions and giving them advice on how to get established in California.”

AlmaLinks has chapters from Beijing to Buenos Aries, enabling Jewish and Israeli entrepreneurs to plug in to a worldwide organization that is focused on helping grow their companies and build their careers. With an ethos of helping each other, sharing experiences and making introductions, Yoni finds value in AlmaLinks far beyond just connecting him back to his homeland.

”It’s really important at our age to make connections with people who have similar aspirations that we wouldn’t connect with normally because they’re outside your area. It expands your horizon and it helps you think about things in a different way.”

”The Israeli economy is highly reliant on exports. High-tech is one but there are others. So naturally if you help the exporters to be successful then it will help the economy. What AlmaLinks does is give you connections around the world because if you want to be successful you need these sorts of ties in Europe and the Far East and AlmaLinks gives you the ability to connect with these people.”

Yoni Leitersdorf is a member of AlmaLinks Silicon Valley and the CEO of indeni.

About the Author
Adam Henderson is a Scottish born Israeli journalist. Prior to making Aliyah he was one of Scotland's top young sports reporters, writing for major UK newspapers and radio. He is Media Officer with AlmaLinks, working to bring new stories of the Start-up Nation to the world.
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