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October 2, 2014 / 8 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Startup Nation’

Samsung Buys Israeli Web TV Startup Boxee

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

Samsung acquired the Israeli streaming media startup Boxee for $30 million.

The Israeli business site The Marker reported the acquisition by the Korean electronics giant on Wednesday and added that Samsung will continue to employ Boxee’s 40 employees.

Boxee, based in Tel Aviv, offers a device that connects to televisions and allows streaming videos from the Internet and personal computers. It also offers media applications and social media connectivity.

Last month, it was reported that Boxee was seeking buyers or additional funding to the $30 million it has raised since its establishment in 2007.

Even Without Shai Agassi, Better Place Offers a Great Deal

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

On Monday, electric car company Better Place announced that Shai Agassi, up to now the face and driving force behind Better Place, was stepping back from his CEO rôle and would continue on as a member of the board and major shareholder. Evan Thornley, Better Place’s CEO in Australia, is stepping up to the global rôle. The news seemed to come out of the blue. The company’s press release about this is here.

I don’t know a lot yet about Evan Thornley, but I will find out more. He certainly pushed Better Place on quite a bit in Australia and, while Renault seems to be a slightly reluctant partner in Europe today, Evan has brought GM Holden on board in Australia and that may turn out to be brilliant.

Timing

If I have a complaint it is about the local timing of this announcement. Just last week Better Place and the local leasing company Albar announced an amazing deal they would be selling at a car show in Tel Aviv this week. They’re offering a 3-year lease for ₪9,990 down and ₪1,990 per month which includes driving 1000 km. Fuel alone for that distance is ₪900 or more. I have personally put two people in touch with Better Place who are close to taking this. I have 3 or 4 more very interested. I’ve had calls or messages from all who are asking if the company will be around to service the lease.

I can’t answer that question. Obviously I need them to continue operating or my car is useless. It’s my belief now, as it was when I bought my car, if Better Place were to fail completely, someone would pick up the local assets at a discount price and continue to run the service. Too much has been spent for it to be written off completely.

As I’ve written so glowingly I think Better Place are doing many things correctly: the product,the pricethe service are all excellent.

Local Advertising

I’m going to make one strategic criticism though. The marketing in Israel has been disappointing. When the New York Times writes “But despite vast publicity, the idea has gained little traction so far.” they’re confusing two different things. Being featured in the Startup Nation book and talked about in global business publications doesn’t affect the Israeli domestic market for cars (or that in Denmark I suspect). Sure it gets a few headlines but the Israeli press has been overwhelmingly skeptical from the start.

I could be very cynical and point out that as car advertising (by internal combustion engine car importers of course) is something like 50% of all media buy in Israel, perhaps the newspapers were just protecting their biggest customers.

But the reality is Better Place has not told a competent story to Israelis. They haven’t advertised in English, Russian or Arabic just for starters. And their advertising in Hebrew has not been enough. There is only one sales centre in Israel: Tel Aviv. There should be one in Jerusalem and Haifa at a minimum. I can’t link to an English version of the lease offer because their web page is in Hebrew only, here’s a brief article in Globes about it. And the terms of the lease are an image so Google won’t even translate it for you.

I know personally how huge this education gap is because of the questions I get asked every time I drive or park my car. Very few people have any idea about the car or actively believe lies and misinformation spread in the press here for 3 years now.

There has been no coherent promotion of just how nice the car is to drive. No promotion of how easy it is to switch or how the home charging works. Of course having only one model hurts them, but as it is  the most popular style of car in the country, not by much.

Shai Agassi and Investment

As to Shai, it is completely normal for a founder of something like this to move or be moved aside when a company transitions into more of an operational stance than a start up. I have met him but I wouldn’t say I know him and I’m not going to give some uninformed speculation about what led to this.

The Very Best of Israel on the Silver Screen

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

Now that Israel’s early elections have been called off, there may be a sigh of relief among supporters of the Jewish state who feel that a new order will form in the country.  The fact that a new so-called unity government has now been formed, with the needs of the religious and the secular communities being addressed equally, could offer  the country the stability it needs to handle its external enemies without having to worry as much about the internal strife tearing it apart.  That remains to be seen, but the hope is being restored.

When events such as the reformation of the government occur, it behooves the country to do as good a job as it can to spread the word far and wide proclaiming the positive.  Too often media and other forces opposed to Israel gather morsels of negativity and portray those as truly representative of the people and government of Israel.  Israel is often its own worst enemy when it comes to public relations; its Hasbara, as it is referred to, is often too defensive and focused in shades of black and white, and therefore can seem harsh and selfish.

If it could only show a different face of the country, to accent attributes other than its military, its land disputes, or the internal, sometimes bitter, divides between the religious and secular communities, Israel can show its appeal as world class leader in arts, technologies, medicine and other areas of worldly advancements.

 This task is really best not left to the government.  The people who research sciences, run businesses and advance medicine or enterprises should be promoting their skills to the communities they address.  They know it best and can do it better, and often have no other motive than promoting what makes them so proud.

When Daniel Senor and Saul Singer wrote Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle, they set out to use their talents to promote the talents of Israel.  Senor is an entrepreneur, and Singer is a journalist, and the two presented the case for Israel’s spirit for research, technology and advancement, and were convincing.  Illustrations like Startup Nation do more to help Israel’s cause than a dozen government spokespeople using obscure metaphors to illustrate how the world has the picture wrong.

This weekend in Long Island and New York City, moviegoers will get to see a work that serves to promote Israel as a place of warmth, beauty, and love, but also one of passion and courage that runs deeper than most would imagine.  Best of all, it is a film created under the auspices of a nonprofit foundation created in 1996 to benefit the Jewish people and the State of Israel primarily through media,  and it pumps its net proceeds back into more hasbarah related projects that continue to further positive images of Israel.

Follow Me: The Yoni Netanyahu Story is a documentary about the life of a true Israeli hero.  Netanyahu was made famous after his death for the spectacular raid in Entebbe, Uganda, that freed 103 mostly Israeli and Jewish hostages from a group of Palestinian terrorists. The near impossible operation, often called Operation Thunderbolt, was meticulously planned and carried out with such surgical precision that it is considered one of the greatest military feats by many experts.

Yet, the story is not a mere recounting of that feat, as Hollywood already did what it could in two motion pictures, one featuring Charles Bronson as Brig. Gen Dan Shomron and Peter Finch as Yitzhak Rabin.  Those were adventure dramas that presented Israel as a superior force with luck and God looking out for it.  No, Follow Me is an honest retrospective of the life of the young, academic, passionate and poetic son, brother, friend, boyfriend, and husband Lt. Col. Yonatan Netanyahu.

Directors Jonathan Gruber, Ari Daniel Pinchot, and producers Mark Manson and Avi Savitsky put together a collection of letter written by Netanyahu to his loved ones while in school and in the army, and uses  interviews with high-level Israeli leaders today, including his younger brother, Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu.  The letters show a boy caught between wanting more out of his life with academics to family, and struggling with his love for his country and his real effectiveness as a strong military leader.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/arts/the-very-best-of-israel-on-the-silver-screen/2012/05/17/

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