Jonathan Medved, an American-Israeli venture capitalist and serial entrepreneur, told the Hadassah Centennial Convention on Tuesday that the Israeli economy, and especially its tech sector, were in excellent shape and called on the conferees to invest in Israeli technology.
Speaking at the International Convention Center in Jerusalem, Medved, founder and CEO of Vringo, a mobile software company, and a partner in a number of venture capital funds, asked rhetorically whether Israel’s “economic miracle,” hailed in the best-selling 2009 book Startup Nation by Dan Senor and Saul Singer, was over.
“No,” he replied emphatically. “We’re doing really well. The party is not over, it is just beginning.”
As indicators of Israel’s thriving economy, the US-born Medved, who moved to Israel in 1994, cited the country’s 3.2 percent growth rate, its number three ranking in the number of companies traded on the New York Stock Exchange (having been bumped down from the second place by China), its robust job creation rate– outpacing both the US and the EU – and its all-time low level of unemployment.
Medved listed a series of technology giants that were increasing their holdings in Israel: Apple Computers, which is about to open its first development center outside the US in Israel; Cisco Systems, which just bought the Jerusalem-based NDS, a provider of software solutions for digital TV, for $5 billion; and the growing presence of other multinational corporations, including Philips, Google and Facebook.
Furthermore, noted Medved, Israeli products were incorporated into an array of widely used technologies in the fields of telephony, computer chips, consumer electronics, life sciences, the environment and clean tech.
“The state of the ‘startup nation’ couldn’t be better,” said Medved.
The entrepreneur said he believed Israelis were enterprising by nature, evidenced by their starting new companies every day. He cited research by the Israeli winner of the Nobel Prize in economics, Daniel Kahneman, who found that “sports teams that believe they’ll win do so more often.”
“You have to be a little delusional,” said Medved. “This country was founded on a delusion,” then, addressing the Hadassah gathering directly, Medved said: “Your support of Israel was driven by delusion.”
Commending Hadassah’s contribution, Medved quoted the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) as calling the Israeli medical system “the best in the world.” He noted that life expectancy in Israel was four years longer than in the US.
Medved called Hadassah a model for all Jewish organizations and made recommendations for maximizing its impact in the future: one, harness the power of technology to invigorate the younger generation.
“Imagine what Henrietta Szold could’ve done with social marketing,” he said.
Two, invest in Israeli research through Hadasit, Hadassah’s technology transfer company. Three, use social networks to win back some of the 90% of Jewish philanthropy which was going to non-Jewish causes.
Lastly, Medved urged the group to get the word out about Israel’s economic strength.
“We’re doing a poor job of selling a great product,” he said.