Whether it is buying an upcoming startup or creating large R&D facilities, Israel seems to have an edge that Big Tech can’t ignore. It is not just American companies going gaga over Israeli talent- even Asian tech giants are rushing to Tel Aviv, the Israeli Silicon Valley to make offices and hire local people. We are not talking about regular regional headquarters- Israel is doing some ‘mission critical’ work for the survival of Big Tech, which is becoming increasingly hard to ignore.
The first among these tech leaders is Microsoft. From rocking the world with its Windows OS to making some bad product choices, Microsoft has done it all. However, it still maintains its status as one of the most important tech companies in the world. Recently Microsoft has begun focusing extensively on its cloud solutions. Azure is the company’s most precious products, and even the Microsoft Office is now in the cloud. The company has a ‘cloud’ R&D division in Israel, headed by a young Israeli cyber-security expert.
Another company with a strong cloud presence is Amazon. The retail giant now has its hands full of a plethora of businesses. It too depends on Israel for it AWS business and even has a drone R&D facility that works for Prime Air service. These two are one of the biggest and most critical lines of business for the company. It depends on Israelis for making Alexa, their virtual assistant, better. Using natural language processing, Alexa will now be used in Amazon’s core business- retail.
Google made inroads to the country years ago when they bought a unique and valuable startup Waze that could eventually go on to make the search engine giant an Uber competitor. It seems obvious that Google’s core business may not have much to do with Waze and their map service. However, when we look at Alphabet, Google’s parent, the picture becomes clear. The company has depended on Waze for creating better online and offline maps and has also learned a great deal about driving habits of people around the world which will be used in the autonomous cars divisions.
The social networking giant Facebook is yet another example of this phenomenon. It acquired Face.com and Onavo to better its mobile analytics and facial recognition service. Apple, on the other hand, houses its second largest R&D sector in Israel while Intel has recently acquired Mobileye to enter the world of autonomous cars.
Even Chinese retail giant Alibaba has acquired VisualLead, a Visual QR Code company to convert any image into a virtual code. Baidu, the search giant, is also connected to Israel for cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and other important ventures. Samsung, the South Korean tech company already has two R&D facilities and two VC operations in the country.
Is it the quality of innovation or human resource that makes Israel a hotspot for technology companies? Expect some more innovative companies in Tel Aviv as well as some emerging startups from the region for years to come.