I was excited to find out today that Waze was sold to Google for $1.1 billion. This is some of the best news I've heard recently. And no, I have no shares in Waze, no options, and no friends who work there. I did not invest in Waze, and I won't receive a single dollar from this amazing acquisition. All the same, I was excited.
I was excited because it's always encouraging to see how enterprise, innovation and hard work create value. It's exciting to see how human capital, original thinking, and the ability to take a risk in short, technological entrepreneurship create value. How it is possible to view the world not as a zero-sum game. How it is possible to create value not at the expense of, and by trampling on, someone else, not by exploiting public resources, and without shady connections between wealth and power. Innovation and technological entrepreneurship make the cake bigger and add value for everybody.
I was excited, because it's fascinating to see how the world is becoming more connected. Google will bring Waze's technology to hundreds of millions of users around the world. Even the present number of Waze users, about 50 million, is astonishing. The dream of every entrepreneur and software developer is to see millions of people using and deriving value from his or her creation, and this dream of the Waze entrepreneurs is going to come true. Google will bring the navigation device to hundreds of millions.
I was excited, because the State of Israel will see hundreds of millions of shekels in tax from the acquisition. This is in addition to the hundreds of millions of shekels that the state is already seeing and will see in tax paid by the company's employees. But the contribution of Waze and its founders to the Israeli economy will be much greater than the taxes themselves. The Waze developers will enter the Israeli Pantheon of success, innovation, and enterprise. A role model for a generation of young entrepreneurs.
I was excited, because at a time when everyone is busy with cutbacks, austerity, tax hikes, battles over where to make cuts, it turns out that the solutions can, and must, also come from making the cake bigger, and not just from how it is shared out. Waze is an excellent example of the importance of investment in education, in science, in technology, and in entrepreneurship, thereby to promote Israel's high-tech industry.
I was excited, because Noam, Ehud, Uri and Amir are Israelis, and it's a source of real pride to find one's way about the streets of Paris, and know that we did it, even if we find ourselves in a cul-de-sac.
A fat check to help others
For all that, I was most excited because of Tmura. Tmura is an Israel non-profit organization set up ten years ago with a unique business model. Think what would have happened to the country if every start-up founded here had allocated a small fraction of its shares for the community. Well, that's what the Tmura entrepreneurs do. Start-ups generally allocate options to their workers and advisers. That is the mechanism that ensures that, one day, when the promising start-up turns into an impressive business success, those who were part of the success benefit from its fruits. The entrepreneurs forego some of their shares in the company in favor of the workers and other contributors. At Tmura, they took this model one step further. They encourage start-ups to allocate some of their shares to a contribution to the community. The success, when it comes, will also bear fruit for the community.
About 300 companies at the beginning of the road have already signed up to Tmura. Dozens of companies have made successful exits that have yielded income to Tmura which has translated into donations to many non-profit organizations. Today, with the completion of the acquisition of Waze by Google, Tmura will gain the biggest contribution in its history - $1.5 million.
In my view, this is a fine closing of the circle for an entrepreneur who chose to allocate some of his shares to a contribution to the community even before success came along. Now, a few years later, his decision has become a fat check to help others.
I was excited. Well done.
The writer, the founder of Aladdin Knowledge Systems, is a social entrepreneur.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on June 12, 2013
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