Tel Aviv's battle of the billboards

Rapyd billboards Photo: Rapyd

With a chronic shortage of talented employees, Israel's tech companies are investing in billboard ads to help fill their rapidly growing number of job vacancies.

In recent months three major billboard campaigns have been launched along Tel Aviv's Ayalon highway, Derech Namir and the outskirts of Herzliya Pituah. The billboards carry slogans in English and present young employees of tech companies, making Tel Aviv resemble San Francisco.

Business intelligence company Gong, gaming developer Playtika and the Group 11 venture capital fund led by founding partner Dovi Frances have all bought millions of shekels of billboard advertising. Last month, web traffic analysis company Similarweb adorned the streets of Tel Aviv with billboard pictures of hundreds of employees saying thank you very much. In February, hitherto anonymous fintech company Rapyd, which has more than 200 employees, decorated the billboards, including at bus stops, with the latest images of their young employees.

The tables have turned: tech employees have become the hottest commodity and the billboard ads have become the shop window of Israel's tech sector. The billboards of Tel Aviv and Herzliya are not cut off from what is happening in the industry but rather they are in many ways the result of developments there. Apparently, a tech company that is not raising money at a major valuation or does not belong to the unicorn club (worth above $1 billion) will find it difficult to compete in hiring quality employees.

As serial tech entrepreneur Mickey Boodaei, CEO of biometric authentication company Transmit Security, told "Globes" earlier this week after the company announced that it had raised $543 million at a company valuation of $2.2 billion, "We felt that in the current situation in the market, the fact that we had not raised any money, made it difficult for us to hire employees, because candidates did not know how to compared us with other companies that are unicorns and we needed to invest resources in order to explain why we are also a hot company. The media also ignored us because we had not raised money and many customers would ask who are the venture capital funds backing us?"

Image, advertising, prestige and capital all bound up. Unicorns are raising hundreds of millions of dollars not only so that they can hire employees but also to receive the status, prestige and visibility of being in the unicorn club, which in turn is meant to enhance their bargaining position for employees.

The shortage in demand for high-tech employees is a chronic phenomenon that has grown over the years. From about 8,000 available jobs a decade ago in the tech industry, it more than doubled to 18,500 jobs on the eve of the breakout of the Covid-19 pandemic at the end of 2019. According to the Israel Innovation Authority, the demand has currently fallen to 13,000 available jobs but the shortage is felt in the tech industry and companies, where companies fight each other for the talented employees.

In addition, about 75% of all tech companies in Israel of all sizes have doubled or even tripled available jobs since the start of 2021, according to Gloat, an Israeli startup, which has developed a platform for hiring talented employees and managing tech careers, and which itself raised $57 million earlier this month at a company valuation of hundreds of millions of dollars.

The reasons for all this are many. The opening up of the capital markets last year and the atmosphere of optimism have led many companies to choose the path of a public offering, while the shift of many services online due to the Covid-19 pandemic and there is low interest rate liquid capital looking to channel itself into tech companies.

Not all the billboards that are targeting tech employees convey the atmosphere of a unicorn. Some of them choose to convey messages about self-fulfillment, healthy organizational culture, and the ability to influence the global agenda. While Similarweb made do with a comment about thanking its employees following a successful IPO on Wall Street, Group 11's ad campaign spoke about hiring "the best employees," and game developer Plarium in a campaign back in 2019 encouraged potential candidates "to conquer the world" - a slogan that had a double significance for any gamers. Playtika, which develops gambling games, speaks about the balance between leisure and work, with the slogan "Life is Play," which appeals to a wide range of communities.

Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on June 24, 2021

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2021

Rapyd billboards Photo: Rapyd
Rapyd billboards Photo: Rapyd
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