Palo Alto CEO wants to adorn Israeli startups with angels

"Create a cause."

"Resist the known and defend the unknown."

"Seize the day."

One would be forgiven for thinking that these are from the musings of a guru rather than an Internet marketing expert.

But speaking to Guy Kawasaki really is like speaking to a true believer. He is a believer in the power of entrepreneurship, hard work and, as he put it, "yozma" — the unique drive that Israelis apply when they want to get something done in a big way.

It's the same drive, according to Kawasaki, that has made Israel the second-most important high-tech center in the world.

Kawasaki is the CEO and chairman of, a Palo Alto-based venture capital firm that raised more than $100 million for 40 high-tech startups last year. did so by matching fledgling companies that show promise with "angels" — wealthy investors who are willing to back startups with little more than a working prototype.

Kawasaki has made a career of evangelizing computer products and causes. He was an early booster of Apple's Macintosh and created one of the first e-mail products for the Mac platform, Claris E-mailer.

In fact, until recently he helped sponsor a group e-mail list called the "Evange-list." Its purpose was to promote Apple computers and give Macintosh users moral support in the face of Microsoft Windows' almost total takeover of the desktop OS market.

He went on to become an Apple Fellow and one of the most powerful people in the organization. He now writes for the business magazine Forbes.

He's even found the time to pen seven books. An early one, "The Macintosh Way," describes how Apple got it right, finally, and how the Mac has been able to persevere in this Windows-based world.

In his latest, "Rules for Revolutionaries" written with Michele Moreno, he describes the three most important rules to follow if you want to build a successful high-tech company: "Create like a god, command like a king and work like a slave."

But Apple is now far behind him. The future according to Kawasaki is now, and it's in high-tech startups.

Late last year, opened an office in Herzliya, Israel — its first branch outside the United States. The company also has offices in Seattle, Boston and Austin, Texas. It recently announced that it will open a London site as well.

Why Israel?

He sees it as a country with a lot of startup action. And Kawasaki, via, intends to get in on the ground floor.

"Israel is seen with great respect in Silicon Valley," Kawasaki said. "I am going to be personally responsible for helping cement the relationship" between Israel and Silicon Valley.

Although most Silicon Valley types know that Israel is a major player in the world of high-tech development, the extent of Israel's accomplishments is not common knowledge.

If everyone knew what he knows, Kawasaki said, they would see Israel as the world's most important high-tech center outside Silicon Valley — more important than even American centers like Boston, or Fairfax, Va., or Austin.

Think about that. One of the world's experts on Silicon Valley believes that Israel harbors a vast, untapped potential of money-making high-tech ideas and products.

Kawasaki asserts that Israeli drive and the country's Western orientation furnish a huge incentive to the creative minds the country harbors.

"Two guys, or two girls, or a guy and a girl in a garage can start a company and make hundreds of millions of dollars. Call it an American dream," he said, which has caught on like wildfire in Israel.

But, because Israel is the subject, the inevitable question must be asked. A high-tech idea has almost no chance of seeing the light of day if investors are too scared to plant their money in Israel.

Does he think that the security situation will discourage companies from investing here?

"You mean stock securities?" he responds, bewildered.

No, the political situation.

"Oh, that!" No, he is not worried.

His wife was, a little bit, when she found out he was going to Israel to attend a high-tech conference last fall. But he feels quite safe in Israel: "It's not like what you see on TV."

So, just what does it take for an Israeli startup to succeed at the money game? What should young companies do in order to get in on the funding stream that Kawasaki intends move in Israel's direction?

Because Americans feel safer investing in American companies, he said, "all the sales and marketing should be done in America." In fact, the company itself should be incorporated in America — at least the marketing arm of the venture.

"All the R&D can be done in Israel," he adds, because this is the local high-tech community's strong point.

And Israelis can't be afraid to take advice from others, especially in management.

"I'm not trying to say that Americans know how to do everything better than anyone else," he said. "But if an Israeli company expects American investors to pump millions of dollars into a product or service which may or may not succeed, they need to realize that investors are going to want those that they trust to help move the project along."