Israeli high tech cautiously optimistic for 2013

Izhar Shay

Belying bleak forecasts, hundreds of new ventures were founded during 2012, and there were $5 billion in exits.

The end of the year is a good opportunity for an interim summary of Israel's high tech. All in all, 2012 was a good year for financing by start-ups; according to IVC, start-ups raised $1.8 billion from venture capital funds.

Belying bleak forecasts, hundreds of new ventures were founded during 2012, and thousands of talented entrepreneurs took the huge risk of embarking on a new road. This is one of the healthy signs for Israel, which wants to be known as the "start-up nation".

There were also exits during 2012. Without going into the interminable and irrelevant debate whether exits are good or bad for Israel's high-tech industry, the wave of acquisitions of Israeli high-tech companies continues, big time. XtremeIO, Amobee Ltd., and Retalix Ltd. (Nasdaq: RTLX; TASE: RTLX) were among the noteworthy exits, which contributed to the impressive total of $5 billion in exits for the year. In addition, there was the acquisition of NDS by Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) for $5 billion, to make 2012 a record year.

Not everything was bright and rosy in 2012, of course. Ongoing fears about the global economic crisis and the worsening conditions in the Eurozone affected many high-tech companies through disappointments about strategic collaborations, missed sales forecasts, and lower guidelines for 2013 budget plans. Everyone's nervousness about the US fiscal cliff adds to the conservative outlooks for the new year. We can says that Israeli high tech is looking toward 2013 with cautious optimism and justified fears.

Inseparable part of Israeli society

It is impossible to summarize the past year without referring to the serious crisis at electric car venture Better Place Inc.. I am happy to praise its former CEO, Shai Agassi, a courageous and visionary entrepreneur, was not afraid to assume the huge challenge and found a company that is trying no less than to change the world. Only people with vision, guts, and chutzpah like Agassi, or, if you want, like Mellanox Technologies Ltd. (Nasdaq:MLNX; TASE:MLNX) chairman and CEO Eyal Waldman, Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. (Nasdaq: CHKP) chairman and CEO Gil Shwed, and serial entrepreneur Dov Moran can assume such a great challenge and try to realize it. Let's tip our hats to these men and their peers in Israeli high tech.

This time last year I wrote in this column the following words: "Summarizing the year in high tech is also a reminder that it is an inseparable part of Israeli society… Workers in high-tech companies continued to work diligently, earn relatively high salaries, and pay taxes, which again this year contributed too much to the livelihoods of the people who live at their expense. The lack of leadership in Israel continues to damage democracy, capitulate to haredi (ultra-orthodox) extortion, and inequality in the distribution of burdens. Unless there is a real change in the foreseeable future, Israeli high tech will ultimately fall victim to the hands of the people who live at its expense and prevent it from continuing to flourish in an enlightened country that promises a bright and safe future for its most loyal citizens."

With your permission, I will not be original, and I am repeating this summary this year, too, especially this year. See you in 2013!

The author is a general partner at Canaan Partners, managing its Israeli operations.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - - on December 27, 2012

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2012

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