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Was Waze a Victim of Being Located in Israel?

There are many advantages to building a start-up in Israel, but some disadvantages too
A man holds an iPhone displaying the Waze app (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
A man holds an iPhone displaying the Waze app (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Recently, I invited Startup Israel’s technology editor, David Shamah, onto our company blog for a conversation about Israel tech trends in 2015. But the conversation ended up taking an interesting turn when we got onto the topic of Waze.

Like many Israelis and/or fans of Israeli technology, I was cheering on Waze from the sidelines and celebrated their billion dollar exit.  But the truth is, as David pointed out, there was room to be disappointed with the Waze exit.  Think about it this way: Snapchat, which you may have never used (unless you’re under 20), has a $10B valuation, but Waze which you probably use regularly, sold for only $1B.  Simplistic, but it still makes the point.

David’s answer blew me away, “Waze really is a ‘victim’ of being located in Israel,” not because of BDS, but because Israel’s tech ecosystem didn’t have the resources to keep Waze going as an independent company.  As David put it, “the Israeli VC community was not reliable or robust enough to fund Waze into becoming the world-class company it could have been.”

Ouch.

What if Waze was started today? Has the Israeli startup ecosystem matured since 2013? For that and more, you can read our full (and now complete) embedded conversation below.

About the Author
Zach Abramowitz is a former lawyer and standup comedian. He is CEO & cofounder of Israeli based startup ReplyAll.me, which makes it easy for content creators to publish great conversations. He also writes for AbovetheLaw.com and blogs at blog.replyall.me.
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