Sunday, July 24, 2011

"Tech Crutch": The Challenge of Moving Beyond Technology in Israeli High Tech

This is a post that has been in draft for almost a year based on hundreds of interactions I have had with start-ups and high tech execs in Israel and abroad. The issues are broad and provocative, and because a blog post risks being an oversimplification, I welcome my readers’ comments and critique. (see Hebrew version in

If there ever is to be a sequel to the book Start-up Nation, Israeli high tech must become as serious about product design, customer experience, and business models as it currently is about technology and R&D. Over the last decade, Israel has mastered an entrepreneurial/venture model, which involves sourcing entrepreneurs from military technology units, creating cutting edge technology products and ultimately selling a company, its IP and personnel to one of many foreign multinationals that have come to appreciate the Israeli brain trust. While this model of start-up creation has served us reliably, it is vulnerable to macroeconomic headwinds and is increasingly unsustainable in the face of technology commoditization that is rapidly approaching our shores in the form of competition from China, Korea and Taiwan. As it turns out, our over reliance on technology creates an endless demand for more technology talent, which prevents us from nurturing vital competencies in product, design and business. The resulting ‘tech crutch’ is a self-perpetuating cycle that threatens the future of Israeli high tech.