Living as Israelis, it’s far too often that we hear an international visitor claim our small country as “the startup nation.” With a mix of sarcasm and national pride, we shake our heads in agreement. The truth is, the tiny nation of Israel has had some tremendous wins over the past decade, rising up to the highest of international mergers and acquisitions. But the question remains, “what made Israel the ‘Startup Nation?'”
In the past 10 years, Israeli companies have amazed the global economy by capturing over $110 billion in buyouts. The nation has seen over 1,210 exits (as reported by research firm IVC Research Center and law firm Meitar Liquornik Geva Leshem Tal).
Some of the great Israeli exits of 2019:
- Mobileye ($15.3 billion)
- Habana Labs Ltd. ($2 billion)
- Armis ($1.1 billion)
- Mellanox Technologies Ltd. ($6.9 billion)
- Dynamic Yield Ltd, ($300 million)
- Demisto ( $560 million)
While the exit values are beyond the imagination, the companies that acquired these Israeli startups are equally impressive. Among those to purchased were Google, Facebook, Amazon, Intel, Microsoft, Palo Alto Networks Inc., Medtronic PLC, Apple, and Salesforce.
Of them all, Intel was the biggest corporate buyer in Israel throughout recent years, buying 10 companies for a total of $17.7 billion.
Why does Israel qualify as the true ‘Startup Nation’
Moving to Israel from the USA after university, I volunteered in the IDF as a lone soldier. I had the opportunity to take a birdseye view on the culture for the first year or so as I adjusted. What I learned is that this nation is full of intelligent, empathetic, friendly individuals who are mission-driven. The combination of these characteristics is perhaps a key to the success of the above companies that found themselves overwhelmed with success.
The military strips us all of our economic statuses, our living arrangements back home, and much of our independence. Even more so, it unites us as a people. It breaks down barriers for combat soldiers to become brothers and unites young men and women as one family. This is where many great ideas are born and partnerships are formed. Great companies like Mobileye were formed out of a passion led partnership of two or more visionaries, in this case Amnon Shashua and Ziv Aviram, who saw a solution to a problem or opportunity waiting to be claimed.
It is this warmth of the nation that binds founders together, allowing them to overcome the never-ending challenges of launching a new venture.