Israel business forecast: hot and sunny

Hewlett-Packard, Cisco, Google, Intel. These Silicon Valley titans have a new favorite place to do business: Israel’s Silicon Wadi.

Israel has more companies traded on the Nasdaq than any nation outside North America. With that kind of high-tech innovation, it’s no wonder many in the Bay Area business community have taken Israeli entrepreneurs under their collective wing.

The California Israel Chamber of Commerce is the Bay Area’s biggest cheerleader for business ties between the United States and Israel. Based in Cupertino, the CICC sponsors workshops, conferences and shmoozing opportunities, all with the aim of strengthening those ties.

The organization held a panel discussion in June featuring representatives from Microsoft, Google and EMC Corp., among others. More than 100 venture capitalists and investment bankers turned out. The question of the day: What is the mergers and acquisitions outlook in Israel today?

Answer: good. Mergers and acquisitions in Israel last year topped $10.6 billion, fueling a 5 percent economic growth rate.

CICC Executive Director Shuly Galili feels good about the event, the third such panel in as many years. “The purpose was to inform our community and bring attention to the fact that Israel is a strong producer of global technology.”

“Israelis are encouraged to think out of the box,” Galili said. “They learn how to be creative, imaginative and work in teams. In many ways, entrepreneurship is part of the character of the typical Israeli engineer.”

Galili’s only complaint: While Israel is an innovator in the marketplace of ideas, it has yet to develop a manufacturing base to capitalize on those ideas. “I hope the next generation will emphasize managing large teams,” she says, “and create opportunities for Israel to build companies to last, not only to sell.”

Given the region’s ongoing violence and political instability, it might surprise some that Israel’s economy continues to steam along. But it doesn’t surprise Galili.

“We’ve brought investors to Israel when bombs were blowing up,” says the native Israeli. “Staying positive and being optimistic — that’s our job. As a result, people who never saw Israel have invested. Nothing scares them.”

Dan Pine

Dan Pine is a contributing editor at J. He was a longtime staff writer at J. and retired as news editor in 2020.