War fails to keep Israeli startups from VivaTech

Israeli delegation to Vivatech 2024: Natalie Shell (Message-Lab), Miri Berger (6Degrees), David Allouch (ClickFreeze), Dionis Teshler (Trulux),  Matt Amaberg (Mint Link), Yossi Dan (delegation organizer, Challengy Lab CEO), Vera Art (Ama Care), Yuval Blutman (Challengy team), Omri Perahia (Bria AI)   credit: Brett Kline
Israeli delegation to Vivatech 2024: Natalie Shell (Message-Lab), Miri Berger (6Degrees), David Allouch (ClickFreeze), Dionis Teshler (Trulux), Matt Amaberg (Mint Link), Yossi Dan (delegation organizer, Challengy Lab CEO), Vera Art (Ama Care), Yuval Blutman (Challengy team), Omri Perahia (Bria AI) credit: Brett Kline

Yossi Dan, organizer of the Israeli delegation to the annual Paris technology event: Israel delivers, no matter what.

"In cybersecurity, we are world leaders, but in AI we are playing catch up to Paris." The AI is of course artificial intelligence, the "we" in this case is Israel, and the quote is from a certain Ben Luria, head of a start-up called Hirundo. Ben was one of 20+ startup and investment fund members of the Israeli delegation to Vivatech, the annual "deal-making and schmooze-fest" tech show, as one NY Times columnist called it, here in Paris. And this year, AI was king.

Israeli startups and investors come every year to VivaTech, really a full-blown, every-level service information, product demonstration and noise fest, from wing-tips to sneakers, to put it not so simply. It features company stands, country and regional pavilions, live stage discussions amongst tech heavyweights, and thousands of startuppers making the rounds. And VivaTech founder Maurice Lévy, chairman of the board of the PublicisGroupe advertising giant, the third largest in the world, maintained his legendary high-energy on stage with global tech leaders for three full days. His partner in this venture since 2016 is the press group Les Echos.

But 30-something Ben Luria and Hirundo from Tel Aviv are not adding to AI content, but rather subtracting. "You can train AI models, but you cannot make them forget, so this means that inaccurate, harmful or vulnerable personal data does not go away," he explained. "We at Hirundo are the first to bring an AI unlearning platform to market. We are ahead of the curve."

Led as every year by Yossi Dan, a longtime figure in Israeli and francophone Israeli tech circles with ties to the Israel-France Chamber of Commerce, the delegation visited the stands of major French groups. With speed and chutzpah, those who wanted to made a 20-second pitch for their product or service at selected crowded stands.

At glamor-driven L’Oreal, Vera Art from Ama Care stepped up. Her app and platform contain information on more than 200,000 beauty products in the skin and haircare fields, gathered without AI. User-consumers (this is a B2C product) take photos of certain products to access all the information, a process that uses classic AI technology. The aggregation of that content information with personal details the consumer adds uses generative AI to determine if the product is best, or harmful, or perhaps useless.

"We have some 270,000 mostly teenage and Gen Z users in the US, UK and Europe," Vera told me after her quick pitch at L’Oreal (which I could not hear over the close-up background noise). Ama Care finds them on TikTok. "Users download the app for free," she continued.

Make-up and fragrance products are soon to be introduced. "When we reach one million users," Vera added with a wide smile, "we will look into selling the analytics on product content and use, without the personal information, of course, to the major groups and smaller companies that manufacture them."

The man from L’Oreal was interested. Vera Art will stay in touch with him. Mission accomplished, in part. And I just learned the difference between classic and generative AI.

Doren Tamir told me he preferred staying under the radar with his young startup Luminescent. He has developed a process using renewable energy to turn heat into electricity, and electricity into heat. And he was sounding positive after talking with someone at the crowded stand of French energy and construction giant Bouygues.

Startup veteran David Allouche insisted on talking with me. Sitting at the Bria stand, he told me, "30% of clicks on internet advertising are robots." His current company, Clickfreeze, recognizes and blocks the robots. He says he has worked on some 2,500 advertising campaigns, often with the media departments of big retailers as clients.

There is no way I can present all the members of the Israeli delegation. But I can list them: Miri Berger of 6Degrees, Vera Art of Ama-Care, Vered Horesh of Bria, David Allouch of ClickFreeze, David A. Glück of CmyLead, Steve Ormonde of D-ID, Franklin Meimoun of FinBerry, Ben Luria of Hirundo, Elsa Katz of Zora Ventures, Dvir Kenig of ITC, Doron Tamir of Luminescent, Daniel Finchelstein of Milestone, Matt Amaberg of Mint Link, Dima Maslennikov of PitchBob, Gilad Ivry of Qualifire, Eitan Zinger of Sibe.io , Ariel Navon of Stage, Nimrod Gottesman of Tellos, and Dionis Teshler at TruLux.

On a stand of its own was already well-established Bria, with its visual generative AI open platform. Marketing VP Sharon Dayan explained that Bria has signed partnerships with 18 stock houses, giving it access to some one billion images. "This guarantees clients that the images they use are all legally sourced," she told me. "And we are beginning work with videos." Bria recently signed an agreement with Microsoft, as reported in "Globes." Investors include French advertising giant PublicisGroupe.

Accompanying the delegation were Séphora Cohen from the Israeli embassy’s business development department , and Michel Kaufmann, Odélia Bohbot-Nataf, and Jennifer Attia from the France Israel Chamber of Commerce. "We do the follow-up work for the Israeli startups that may be developing work here in France," Odelia noted. "They ask us to help find the right contact in a big French group, for example, or to find office space to set up here in Paris."

I was finally granted some time with VivaTech founder and leading figure Maurice Lévy in the Viva Lounge. He promptly left his phone on the table while moving through short conversations with at least five people all around us in the lounge. Maurice eventually returned to me and his phone and right away noted that artificial intelligence made up 40% of the show, but is used in every field of technology.

I asked him about a statement that Elon Musk made during a conversation by satellite with him, during which the Tesla boss said: "My biggest hope in one word would be Mars. My biggest fear in one word: AI."

"Elon is being cautious about AI, and is worried about it being used to steal voices and images," Maurice said. "Yes, and as you mentioned, AI must be protected. I believe that AI cybersecurity will be very important for democracy everywhere. It will be the new gatekeeper, a new border, tools that will tell us what is real and what is fake. Peoples’ biggest fear with AI is that they are being lied to, especially during times of war. It is happening already. And AI cybersecurity will also be a great business."

Maurice Levy added that he was very happy to see the Israeli delegation present during this "very sensitive period." Then he said goodbye, and went to prepare for an on-stage discussion with Robin Li, head of Chinese internet giant Baidu.

In fact, though some people said it was "hors sujet", I thought it was important to bring up the war in Gaza with delegation members. So I pressed a few of them on this, but they were not thrilled about going on the record with anything. I reluctantly let it go. Only delegation organizer Yossi Dan was at ease speaking with journalist Hanna Papiachvilli from i24 News TV and with me. I should mention that he was greatly appreciated by delegation members for organizing this exploratory trip to Paris, especially in the current situation.

"The interest in Israeli technology is perhaps even greater in the current difficult context," he told i24. "We know what is going on in Israel, but this is the business side. We can say, Israel delivers, no matter what."

"There is a lot of not-good noise about Israel, like a spotlight," he told me. "This situation is not easy, but you see that Microsoft just signed an agreement with Bria to include its visual AI model in offerings to clients. That is huge."

Then I came across a spectacular sculpture at the ArtIA stand. (IA - intelligence artificielle). Co-founder Asmae Marhraoui, a young French-Moroccan artist, used generative AI to aggregate some 4,000 images of different sculptures, representing the history of sculpture, she told me, and created a "new vision of Venus." She 3-D printed it, and sculptured in amber resin and gold paper a 60-kilo model called VenusIA. "It is the first sculpture ever using AI," she told me proudly. "There are paintings, but no sculptures." I could not independently verify this.

Among the 165,000 Vivatech attendees for this 8 th edition (+10% over 2023), including 13,500 startup teams, how many people happened upon this VenusIA? They would have seen the light filtering through the different shades of gold-flecked amber, giving the piece a powerful, flowing presence, a symbol of love.

AI is indeed bringing us to a brave new world, as did the Industrial Revolution and the first era of mass computer use, perhaps a world where nothing is impossible….just an idea I had about how high the notion of "AI for good" can fly, on the floor of Vivatech here in Paris.

Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on May 27, 2024.

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd., 2024.

Israeli delegation to Vivatech 2024: Natalie Shell (Message-Lab), Miri Berger (6Degrees), David Allouch (ClickFreeze), Dionis Teshler (Trulux),  Matt Amaberg (Mint Link), Yossi Dan (delegation organizer, Challengy Lab CEO), Vera Art (Ama Care), Yuval Blutman (Challengy team), Omri Perahia (Bria AI)   credit: Brett Kline
Israeli delegation to Vivatech 2024: Natalie Shell (Message-Lab), Miri Berger (6Degrees), David Allouch (ClickFreeze), Dionis Teshler (Trulux), Matt Amaberg (Mint Link), Yossi Dan (delegation organizer, Challengy Lab CEO), Vera Art (Ama Care), Yuval Blutman (Challengy team), Omri Perahia (Bria AI) credit: Brett Kline
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