Entrepreneur Yossi Vardi, who has supported the development of 86 companies in 40 years, deciphers the economic, social, cultural and psychological reasons behind the success of the “Israel Valley”.
He is the “pope” of Israeli innovation and one of the best ambassadors of the “Israel Valley” to the world.
At 72, Yossi Vardi has already founded or supported 86 high-tech companies.
Among them, some of the most beautiful jewels of the country, in particular Mirabilis, the startup which developed the first instant messaging system on the Internet, then bought by AOL for 400 million dollars.
For him, Israel became the Start Up Nation thanks to jewish mothers.
Joseph Vardi was born in Tel Aviv.
He studied at the Technion in Haifa, where he obtained a B. Sc. In industrial engineering management.
He went on to obtain a Master of Science in Operations Research and a D. Sc. (His thesis was awarded the Kennedy-Leigh Prize).
He is married to Talma and the father of Arik (co-founder of ICQ), Oded and Dani.
Yossi Vardi’s Career
Vardi started his entrepreneurial career in 1969, at the age of 26, as co-founder and first managing director of TEKEM (Hebrew: טכ”מ) (Hebrew – short for “Technologia Mitkademet” In English: ATL-Advanced Technology Ltd.), one of the first software houses in Israel (later sold to Tadiran and then absorbed into Ness Technologies).
In 1970 he was appointed director general of the Ministry of Development.
He has served as president of Israel Chemicals of Mifaley Tovala, of Harsit and Hol Zach, and a board member of Israel Electric Corporation, Dead Sea Works, Dead Sea Bromine, Dead Sea Periclase, Haifa Chemicals, Chemicals and Phosphates, and of He also chaired the Board of Fertilizer Development and Explorations Petroleum Concessions.
He was sent to the United States to serve as director of the North American Investment Authority, and the Consul for Economic Affairs of the State of Israel in New York.
In this capacity, he participated in the establishment of the Israel of the United States Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation (BIRD-F).
He acted as adviser to the Israeli conflict UN mission
Upon his return to Israel, he was the first Director General of the Ministry of Energy.
Vardi also chaired the National Oil Company of Israel, and was a board member of Oil Refineries Ltd.
During his tenure, Israel discovered and developed oil fields in the Gulf of Suez.
Vardi co-founded Alon Oil, Laser Technologies International, Granite Hacarmel and other companies.
Vardi is a co-patent holder for instant messaging on phones.
Yossi Vardi’s Investment strategy
Vardi is an early stage “angel” investor.
Since 1996 he has played an active role in the creation of young internet companies and internet start – ups.
In 1996, he became the founder investor of Mirabilis (company) – the creator of ICQ, which is the first instant messaging application that was published on the web.
Among the companies he has invested in, or helped build are Answers.com (gone public), Gteko (sold to Microsoft), Airlink (sold to Sierra Wireless), Tivella (sold to Cisco), Scopus (gone public), CTI2 (sold to Audiocodes), FoxyTunes (sold to Yahoo), Tucows (gone public), Wibiya (sold to drive), Project Gift (sold to eBay), Epals (gone public), and Starnet (sold to IAC / InterActiveCorp).
Among its other investments are: Come2Play (a social game site), fring, SpeedBit, Cellogic (developer of a content discovery platform for mobile publishers and the deeplink.me mobile deep link platform), BloggersBase (a discovery platform for UGC premium), Wefi and many others.
Mirabilis, which had virtually no revenue, was sold to AOL just 19 months after its product released for over $ 400 million.
The sale inspired a whole generation of young Israelis to open start – ups. According to Forbes: “… overnight, a new phrase ‘the Mirabilis effect’ became popular as young Israeli entrepreneurs yearned to copy the success of the business.”
After his retirement from public service, Vardi served on the boards of Amdocs, Ma’ariv, Elite, Scitex, Bezeq, Arkia, Elisra, Hamashbir Hamerkazi and others, and helped Ormat Industries identify and develop its geothermal energy activity.
He is a member of the Amdocs Advisory Board.
Culture of culture Innovation and creativity
In recent years, Vardi has been active in promoting a culture of innovation and creativity in Israel and abroad.
He founded Kinnernet, an annual, three-day collection of creators from around the world at the Sea of Galilee; he is the president of 4YFN (4 years now), the kick-off event organized by Mobile World Capital Barcelona; together with Dr Hubert Burda, he is co-chairing the annual DLD conference (Digital, Lifestyle, Design) in Munich; together with Sir Martin Sorrell, he co-chairs the annual unconference Stream in Greece, he also co-hosts ICUC – (Cowboys Internet Unconference) in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
After leaving government, Vardi continued to be involved in the public sector.
He is the co-chair of the European Union – Strategic Business Dialogue Israel.
He has chaired several government appointed commissions and committees, including the Public Commission for Electricity Sector Regulation, the Public Raising Commission for Venture Capital in the Stock Exchange and others.
He also took part in the formation of Yozma.
He has served on the Advisory Board of the Bank of Israel and Israel Authority, and on the Board of Directors of the Development Corporation for Israel (State of Israel Bonds).
He sits on the Technion Board of Directors.
He was the president of the Jerusalem Foundation, was a member of the board and executive committee of the Open University of Israel, and the board of trustees of the Hebrew University and the Weizmann Institute.
The Role of Yossi Vardi in Peace negotiations
In his capacity as Director General of the Ministry of Energy, Vardi led the negotiations regarding the oil part of the peace agreement with Egypt.
While in the private sector Vardi was invited to serve as special adviser to ministers of foreign affairs and finance, regional cooperation and head of economic negotiations with Jordan.
He also participated in multilateral talks with the Palestinians, and was part of the Israeli delegation to the Wye Plantation talks with the Syrians.
In 2013, Vardi was one of a group of Israeli and Palestinian turnovers who launched Breaking the Impasse (BTI), a forum for promoting a diplomatic solution.
BTI is supported by the World Economic Forum.
Yossi Vardi’s international activities
Vardi has acted as an advisor to the World Bank and the United Nations Program on energy policy and strategy issues in developing countries.
He is a member of the World Economic Forum, serves as an adviser on Middle Eastern economic affairs to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
and on future trends of the Bankinter Foundation Innovation Forum.
He is a member of the advisory board of Blackberry Ventures, and served on the Visionary Research board of Motorola, and a member of the advisory board of 3i, has served as an advisor to the CEOs of AOL, Amazon.com, Allied-Signal, Siemens-Albis and d ‘others.
Vardi was shortlisted by Wall Street Journal Europe for “Tech’s Top 25”, and won the TechCrunch Europe 2009 “Best Investor Personality” award.
He received an honorary doctorate from the Technion, honorary member of the Open University, twice received the Prime Minister Award for achievements of life in the high-tech region; the industry award, for its contribution to Israel’s development industry; Entrepreneur of the Year, 2010 Excellence in Global Entrepreneurship and Management Award and Hugo Ramniceanu Prize in Economics from Tel Aviv University.
He also received CEO Entrepreneurs Hall of Fame from the Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization, and a Certificate of Merit for Software Industry and Information Technology Industry Pioneer from the Israel House of System Analysts, and the European Alliance for Innovation Leadership Innovation Medal.
He was named as one of the most influential international The Industry Standard, cited by Haaretz newspaper as one of the 50 “people of the decade” for the first decade of the 2000s, was elected by Israel 21c to the top 10 icons high-tech Israeli – The Pioneers, by the Algemeiner for “100 Jews – the top 100 people positively influencing Jewish life” and by Wired magazine as number 9 of the 2014 Wired top 100.
Yossi Vardi: quotes
“Investing in the Internet is similar to investing in a farm. A farmer sows his seeds and 180 days later he is harvesting. With start-up investments you sow your seeds and the harvest might take two or three years, but the end it will always come. maybe that’s what confused investors. they see cartloads of produce and they run to sow, but they cannot see when the harvest will come.
A farmer sows his seeds and 180 days later he is harvesting. With start-up investments you sow your seeds and the harvest might take two or three years, but the end it will always come. maybe that’s what confused investors. they see cartloads of produce and they run to sow, but they cannot see when the harvest will come.
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