You Don’t Have to Be Waze to Be a Unicorn

Credit: CC BY-SA 2.0, usembassyta, Flickr
Credit: CC BY-SA 2.0, usembassyta, Flickr

Across the world, Israel is recognized as a leader in the tech industry. With Israel housing some of the world’s hottest companies, and billions of dollars generated in exits, it’s easy to see why companies like Waze and Viber have instant brand recognition. However, what people may not be aware of the myriad of Israeli tech companies that, while vital to the country’s tech scene, get almost no mainstream attention. This is the world of chips, cables, processors, and other sophisticated electronic hardware.

Hardware is an integral part of the Israeli tech ecosystem, with the industry employing a large section of private sector jobs in Israel. And yet, if hardware companies are some of the main driving forces in Israel’s economy and technology, why do global companies such as Kramer Electronics and Mellanox Technologies leave us drawing a blank?

Let’s take a look at Kramer Electronics, a leading global creator of Pro A/V products. The company was founded in 1981, decades before Israel became “Silicon Wadi.”  Kramer produces over 1,500 products, including cables and electronic accessories, and has 27 branches worldwide. However, although it is considered to be one of the top three companies within the Pro A/V industry, Kramer thrives quietly in the background.

Mellanox Technologies is another great example. Founded in 1999, Mellanox supplies products that increase data center efficiency. This means faster results in areas like high performance computing, enterprise data centers, Web 2.0, cloud, storage and financial services. When the company went public in 2007, it was valued at over half a billion dollars. Remember, unicorns (or any company valued at over a billion dollars) were much more rare in those days. Now the company is worth much more, with two of their largest clients being Hewlett-Packard and IBM.

How can such giant companies be kept a secret? The answer lies with the consumers. Many companies like Kramer Electronics cater strictly to businesses. Business to Business Companies, or B2B for short, thrive on the need for the latest and most innovative tech demanded in the modern workplace.

We all want the fastest internet connection, presentations that are glitch-free, and keyboards that never stick. However, we’re seldom aware of the hardware that allows that to happen, and B2B companies thrive on this notion. By marketing directly to companies, Kramer Electronics and Mellanox Technologies are able to build long-term and dependable relationships between businesses, leaving the consumers out of the equation. While it is much easier to remember consumer facing companies, like WhatsApp, B2B hardware companies continue to grow thanks to cultivated relationships and reliable products.

It is high time that this side of the Israeli tech scene has a turn to shine. While consumer facing products and apps will always be more recognizable, hopefully we can start to give Israeli hardware its proper due.  

About the Author
Jonah Balfour is an avid fan of technology, Apple, and Israel. He has worked with some of the hottest Israeli startups and is an evangelist for the Israeli tech industry as a whole.