Silicon Valley venture capitalists and big tech acquirers have been coming to Israel with checkbooks in hand. This has led to what some in Tel Aviv describe as the early-sellout problem.
In an interview on Bloomberg TV, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu weighed in on Israel’s lack of Google-sized tech companies and why that’s not the end of the world.
"Small Googles, that would be fine," Netanyahu told Cory Johnson. “It used to be that if they sell at $100 million, they were wildly successful. Now they sell at a billion, and soon they'll sell at a few billion, but I'm not sure there's a cure for that. I'm not going to legislate and tell them you can't do that.”
Izhar Shay, a general partner at venture-capital firm Canaan Partners in Israel, told me in a recent interview in Tel Aviv that the trend of companies selling before an IPO shows no signs of changing. Like Netanyahu, Shay said it’s not necessarily a bad thing because it brings money into the country to fund continued research into new areas.
“Many companies are being acquired early,” Shay said. “I’m pretty confident that this is pretty good for the Israeli economy.”
Netanyahu spoke with "Bloomberg West" this week during a trip to California, where he met with Governor Jerry Brown to discuss a collaboration to solve the state’s water shortage using Israeli technology. Netanyahu was also in Silicon Valley to meet with tech companies including Apple, which has acquired engineering outposts in Israel. The prime minister showed no regret that Israel doesn’t have its own Apple.
"Israel is,” Netanyahu said, "the laboratory of the world."