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Book Review & Discussion: ‘Start-up Nation’

Book Review & Discussion: ‘Start-up Nation’

Wed, 17 Feb 2021, 7 to 10 pm Central European Time (UTC+1)

Register here.

The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle

About this Event

In this event, you’ll learn

  • How the Israeli military is a crucial part of society and breeds entrepreneurs
  • The two significant leaps in Israeli history and what part something called kibbutzim played in it
  • Why both immigration and emigration are useful for Israel
  • What could threaten Israel’s innovation culture in the future

About the Author

Dan Senor, adjunct senior fellow for Middle East Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, has been on the front lines of policy, politics, and business in the Middle East. As a senior foreign policy advisor to the US government, he was one of the longest-serving civilian officials in Iraq. He has also served in Qatar and studied in Israel. Senor’s pieces are frequently published by The Wall Street Journal. Saul Singer is the editorial editor of The Jerusalem Post, for which he writes a weekly column, and the author of Confronting Jihad: Israel’s Struggle and the World after 9/11. For 10 years, he served as a foreign policy adviser on Capitol Hill.


Israel boasts the highest density of startups in the world – a total of 3850 startups, one for every 1,844 Israelis (mic drop). In 2008, per capita venture capital investments in Israel were 2.5 times greater than in the Unites States, more than 30 times greater than in Europe, 80 times greater than in China and 350 times greater than India (mic drop again).

Israel was also home to the fifth largest entrepreneurial venture in modern history, with an initial investment of $200M towards a startup called Better Place that redefined the car, oil and electricity industry (eventually garnering over $850M in investment before coming to a global standstill). Better Place was the first to adapt cars that ran completely on batteries, and the firm made a good run for it with battery swapping stations and the sale of 750 cars before its major pause, claiming that the industry is not yet ready for electric cars. The list of their super studded innovations are still many to remember and learn from (but they also brought a bit of a stain to the energy investment space that it still hasn’t quite recovered from).

This book was written in 2009 and captures Israel’s business growth since 1948 – including 60 years of great innovations that came out of Israel, including:

Fraud Sciences: The company developed a technology that identifies computer fraud. The firm’s leadership set up a meeting with eBay, who thought they were the market leaders in terms of fraud detection. However, after Fraud Sciences took a sample of PayPal’s files and ran a test, the firm demonstrated that its technology was 70% better and took 95% less time than eBay’s team. eBay bought the company for $169M in January of 2008. The firm created a solution that was at least 5 years ahead of eBay and its technology.

Intel: During the computer boom, there was one major problem facing all computer chip designers – heat! Though the problem was stifling technology development all over the world, it was Intel’s Israeli R&D group who came up with a simple solution – to design chips like transmissions, i.e the faster you go, step them up from first to fifth gear. Though this concept meant Intel had to change its whole marketing and product design, company leadership says this innovation saved the company.

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