What Silicon Valley could learn from these 14 Israeli companies

This post reposted from building43.

Last week Rocky Barbanica and I visited Israel and we videoed many companies (some of those interviews are still to come after we edit them). But while going through all the videos, I wondered what Silicon Valley could learn from these companies? After all, Silicon Valley is undergoing another major transformation. One from a place that makes Silicon chips to one that makes Social Networks (Google Buzz, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook are all headquartered within 45 miles of Silicon Valley, all grown in the past few years while Intel turned off its last fab here).

Why should Silicon Valley look to Israel for good ideas? Well, because, simply, this small country has more than its fair share of great ideas, especially when it comes to social networks.

1. 6Rounds — what happens when you mate Chatroulette (which has 20 million unique visitors a month) with Zynga (popular casual game producer)? 6Rounds. Look to companies like these to find new ways to addict millions of people to both video and gaming. Watch the video with 6Rounds’ founders.

2. Waze — shows that a small company can kick Google’s ass at mapping, but only if they get enough users. This company uses crowds to bring better data onto maps than anyone else. We drive around Tel Aviv  to get a look, but Silicon Valley would do well to learn what has made Waze popular around the world and, what, could even disrupt Google Maps on its home turf. Watch the video with Waze’s head of business development.

3. iStreamer — Silicon Valley is hot about the iPad, many of the best apps are out of the valley, but iStreamer shows that interesting new UIs and approaches can come along from elsewhere. Watch the video of the founders of iStreamer give me the first look.

4. Genieo and My6sense — these two companies are trying to solve the information overload problem by picking out only the best news from your streams to show you. What can Silicon Valley learn from these two companies? Well, Google Buzz has no filtering yet and it needs it. Facebook has filtering, but it could be better. These two companies have different approaches to reduce noise and get news that interests you. Watch the video with Genieo’s CEO. Watch a video from My6sense about My6sense.

5. Supersonic Ads — virtual currency is very popular in Europe and Supersonic Ads is showing us how to incorporate virtual currency into our applications so our developers can get paid. Watch the video with Supersonic Ads’ co-founder.

6. Springo — what Yahoo started about 15 years ago is continued by Springo, which is a new kind of directory and search engine for the new social world. Shows visually the most popular websites too, which makes the web more useful than Google or Yahoo is for many searches, like Jobs. Watch the video with Springo’s CEO.

7. Interlude.fm — could rejuvenate MySpace, or offer a new video entertainment platform a new way to get audience. Watch the video of famous Israeli singing star introducing Interlude.fm at the Techonomy Conference in Tel Aviv (he won for best new company there). Then watch my own interview after the conference with Yoni.

8. Fiddme — shows what happens when you hook up a great mobile app with Foursquare. Why hasn’t Yelp or Google’s mobile apps done this yet? Oh, yeah, protect their business interests. Silicon Valley would do well to learn the story telling skills of founder Yosi Taguri, too.  Watch the video presentation by Fiddme’s founder at the Techonomy conference in Tel Aviv, thanks to NewsGeek for filming that.

9. Omek Interactive — this company has a cool new gaming system that will compete with Microsoft’s Xbox Natal, which will come later this year. But this company shows that you can develop great new user experiences and we don’t have to wait for big companies to do it. Watch the video with Omek’s CEO here.

10. Soluto — this company is going to announce soon. What can Silicon Valley learn from it? Well, for one, they aim to show there’s still a great business in helping Microsoft Windows users improve their computers. Unfortunately I can’t say more until after they launch. Video coming soon to building43.

11. Mainsoft — they integrate Sharepoint and Outlook with Google Docs, what does this teach Silicon Valley? That a pure Web play might not be the best way to go, most users dont want to jump completely into the new world and want to stick with what has worked for them for 10 years or more, so this company is looking to bridge Google Docs into Lotus, Microsoft, and Rational environments. Video coming soon to building43.

12. Hacktics — these guys are helping developers make their code safer from attacks with a new product called Seeker (Techcrunch just wrote about them). This is still something Silicon Valley needs to improve. Even Facebook and Twitter, this week, had some attacks from hackers that showed weaknesses in coding. Video coming soon to building43.

13. Pageonce — this company shows how you can morph yourself from one business (helping travelers) to another (helping bill payers). Lots of Silicon Valley companies need to shift directions faster and Pageonce shows how to do it successfully. But Pageonce is also showing how to be a successful mobile app developer, and has raised $10 million in capital to do just that. Watch the video with Pageonce’s head of engineering.

14. Conduit — professional publishers are always looking for ways to get more engagement from their readers and Conduit’s browser apps show us how to do that. Techcrunch even uses them to help their readers. Watch the video with Conduit.

15. Starling.tv — this isn’t an Israeli company, but I met them in Kinneret, Israel, at Yossi Vardi’s camp. Lots of people see them as the pioneers in a new social TV field. Already Twitter and Facebook are highly integrated with TV — during the Oscars, for instance, thousands of users were discussing that TV show in live time. Starling is hoping to make a social experience that focuses only on TV and could, in the process, show Silicon Valley how to make tons of money off of TV. Watch the video with Starling’s founder.


11 thoughts on “What Silicon Valley could learn from these 14 Israeli companies

  1. The Genieo product proves that you can do great stuff without giving away all of your privacy, very smart. I think it's poducts like these that have a real chance to overcome user disdain/apathy toward most online ads, when we come to see the intermediary as a truly trustworthy/trusted/smart advisor, and therefore take its (sparing/timely/logical/etc.) recommendations a lot more seriously than the current fare of “ads as punishment for using internet stuff for free”…


  2. Re: Tweet – I'd say you got a fair return on your investment. Liked Genieo and Supersonic. Note: Looks a whole lot sexier with a female technologist around, good to see a blend of gender. Excellent roundup.


  3. Robert,If you haven't already, I highly recommend reading “Start-up Nation”. It is a very interesting read on “why” Israel has created such a great environments for start-ups.


  4. Robert,If you haven't already, I highly recommend reading “Start-up Nation”. It is a very interesting read on “why” Israel has created such a great environments for start-ups.


  5. I saw Genieo at DEMO (along with several other fantastic Israeli tech companies), downloaded it, and now consider it an essential voice in my day — I love that it's private, and that it pulls the disparate and eclectic sources that interest me, even individual tweeters, into a single easy to navigate and customize feed. And that it sees beyond past habits to navigate “intention” is ubercool.


  6. Whoa too much for my mobile. Content OD Robert :).I'll have to book mark this for when I have time to review the videos (no good on the phone). Always appreciate learning about what sharp founders are creating and why they're doing it.


  7. I don't think any of these companies are that compelling.Nobody I know wants to do business with the Silicon Valley anymore. Just yesterday twice I heard people say they don't want to deal with the B.S. here.


  8. This is a great post Scoble !I agree with you that Israel has tons to contribute to the Silicon Valley but on the other hand we have to keep in mind that Israeli startups are mainly focusing on the US market and they will have to better understand the culture and the available distribution channels and of course, overcome the lack of presence on the target market if they want to increase their chances to succeed. In order to do that Israeli startups will have to join forces with US-based companies and this is the real opportunity for a Win Win !Good luck !


  9. I founded Netex when I was 17 years old, and was among the first Israeli entrepreneurs to successfully develop technologies that influence the way users interact with the Internet. Like all Israelis, I served in the Israeli Defense Forces, but during that time, I also simultaneously nurtured the growth of Netex, and was awarded several patents that are fundamental to our platform. In 2006, I oversaw the public offering of Netex on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, and I'm now managing the roll-out of Springo in the United States.


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