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Who by Google, who by IPO? 

With investment at an all time high, Israel's business sector could use some Yom Kippur-style introspection
The Wix team toasts its IPO on the Nasdaq trading floor earlier this year (Photo credit: Courtesy Wix)
The Wix team toasts its IPO on the Nasdaq trading floor earlier this year (Photo credit: Courtesy Wix)

About half way through three days of prayer, while squeezed into the social hall of the synagogue, my mind started to wander. When is the business world’s day of atonement? The great pitchbook: When is it written? When is it sealed?

Who will crush it and who will pivot? How many will start up and how many will exit? Who will commercialize their algorithm and who will exceed their burn-rate? 

This year saw the strongest capital raising period on record for Israel’s high-tech industry. Some 175 Israeli startups raised a record $930 million in the second quarter, according to the IVC Research Center. Investment in internet ventures represented more than 25% of that in the first six months of this year. In the same period, there were 15 deals above $20 million, nearly equal to the number of investments for all of 2013.

A mega deal is pending and will see the fruits of the great socialist kibbutz experiment sold to the progeny of Chairman Mao’s communist dream. Apax Partners and China’s Bright Foods are negotiating the details of the sale of the former Tnuva farmers’ cooperative, valued at 8.6 billion shekels. Here is a Day of Judgment.

These are the days of introspection. A time for personal stock taking.

In a country that often dismisses contrition or the contemplative pause as at best shtuyot (nonsense) or at worst a sign of weakness, maybe a day of introspection could make a business stronger, more focused and better able to weather market downturns.

How does a business wrestle with the tough questions? Earlier in my career, I spent a number of years working at McKinsey & Company. The entire firm took a day annually for what can be described as organized introspection. No beating of chests with al heyt, still most of us emerged from the day with a better understanding of where we worked and why we worked there.

Who will become poor and who will grow rich? Who cast down and who raised high?

Far too many words have been written this year about the antics of those whose financial-engineered fortunes came crashing down around them. The government is moving forward with efforts to break down the pyramids of control that enabled the Dankners and Zissers of the land to prosper.

Not enough is being done to enable the new economy and its entrepreneurs to thrive. Old economy manufacturers are choking on a shekel that’s been too strong for too long. Regulation is stifling the local capital markets. Barriers are preventing foreign entrepreneurs from obtaining visas to set up businesses and work here. Our tax burden is a bargaining chip in the hands of an economics neophyte.

The new year begins and we stand poised to reap the rewards of our vast natural resources. It’s a windfall that hasn’t quite set in to the collective psyche. We have an opportunity to shape an economy that will be a light unto nations. Let’s hope that we’re judged favorably for our deeds.

About the Author
Robert is a financial writer and editor covering the Israel business scene at TLV Strategist and Analytika Research. He's a former editor at Bloomberg News in Tel Aviv, McKinsey & Co. and McDonald & Company Investments.
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