Tech Bound #42: Israel – the holy startup nation

5 min read
Tech Bound Spotify Playlist:

– Case Study

Israel – the holy startup nation

What have ICQ, Waze, Wix, and Mobileye in common? They’re from Israel!
After the real Silicon Valley and China, the country is the 3rd biggest Tech Hub in the world. In the year 2000, Wired magazine ranked “Silicon Wadi” (“Wadi” = “Valley”) second only to California’s Silicon Valley.
israel startup nation
Israel went through a software boom in the 80s and 90s, but the big bang came with the development of ICQ in 1998. 18 months after ICQ came to market it was sold to AOL for over $400M, despite having no revenues (but 100M users). More monster-acquisitions are Google’s purchase of Waze in 2006 for one billion USD, eBay’s acquisition of in 2005 for over $600M, and Intel’s acquisition of Mobileye for $15b – the biggest-ever acquisition of an Israeli company.
The small country is known for many innovations you probably heard of: 
  • The USB flash drive
  • Voice over IP
  • The laser keyboard
  • The epilator
  • The Desert Eagle and Iron Dome
  • Drip irrigation technology
An average funding round in Israel is $10M and the country gets 15% of all cybersecurity investments (source: Forbes). Israel also has the highest venture capital per capita with $425,000 per 1,000 people (source) and the most startups per person in the world. Every big Tech company has an R&D office set up in Israel, from IBM to Google, Facebook, & Co that often acquires Israeli startups.
What makes Israel’s startup scene so strong?
Diversity. Israel is obviously a country that consists mainly of immigrants from many all over the world. Inclusive environments often lead to more innovation, as the Silicon Valley in California shows (look at how many companies were started by immigrants).
Military. Military funding has always pushed technological development in our history. The radio, Duct Tape, digital photography and even the Internet itself are a few examples. Of course, the military also drives a lot of innovation in Israel, a country that’s constantly on the brink of war. It funds startups and builds experts in the field. There are over 160 cybersecurity startups in Israel, now (Venturebeat).
Space. Israel is tiny. 8.5 million people are living on just a bit more land than New Jersey. That makes the market really small, but it also makes it easier to reach out to people, say for market research, or connect with other entrepreneurs.
Education. Israelis speak are well educated with one of the world’s best higher education systems. They also speak good English because Israeli startups do much of the business with companies outside of Israel.
Adversity. Before Israel was a country, it wasn’t much more than desert. Besides many survival wars, its immigrants had to literally build the country. That gave the people an entrepreneurial spirit, grit and resistance.
Fun. Tel Aviv is a young city that stays open until late at night. Young talent is crucial for an innovation hub.
More Links:
– Point of view

To be successful in SEO, you have to do things outside of SEO

This is not going to be a “SEO is dead” essay. It’s a collection of thoughts about the state of SEO.
SEO means doing more than just SEO
I recently talked to a bright mind that runs SEO at another well known brand in the B2B space. This conversation confirmed my view on SEO: the biggest results often come from things you do outside of SEO.
What do I mean by that? Things like acquiring another company, offline events, releasing a big report with unique data, creating and scaling a new page format, releasing a new product. How much of that is SEO and how much is “business”? At the same time, such events have a strong impact on search volume, rankings, click-through rates, and user signals.
SEO is changing rapidly
The main driver is Google’s switch to machine learning, which diversifies ranking factors to a degree that makes it intangible. One example is UX. Some would argue UX has always been important – and it has – but nowadays a bad site design can mean the (SEO) death of a business. 
Machine learning enabled five major “ranking factors” that I see mostly responsible for change:
  • Google’s understanding of search intent
  • Google’s understanding of entities and their relationship
  • The important of E-A-T (expertise, authority, trustworthiness)
  • Pattern recognition
  • The impact of user signals
The implications on SEO
Basically, SEOs have to be conversion optimizers, product managers, UX designers, software engineers, and business developers. The best formation is to combine all these roles into one team, which is the idea of cross-functional Growth teams. That’s the reason why I have become so obsessed with Growth, even though I’m coming from SEO.
To be successful, SEOs need to be very well integrated and connected in the company. They need to be involved in talks within the mentioned disciplines and most importantly: think creatively!

Your weekly dose of awesome content

Youtube: “13 SEO Tips That ACTUALLY Work in 2018 and Beyond”
Cool list of SEO tactics mostly around finding keywords and building links.
McKinsey: “Banks and the digital flywheel: An engine for ongoing value capture”
Banks that have a successful digital transformation change all the way, not just the front-end.
Twitter: “The market cap of the top 5 S&P 500 companies”
Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, and Alphabet have a market cap as high as the rest of the S&P 500 O_O.
Bloomberg: “Best Buy Should Be Dead, But It’s Thriving in the Age of Amazon”
A good story about growth , innovation, and how to turn a business around.
Reforge: “Building Growth: Product, Process, and Team”
Mattbyrom: “Interview with Yuriy Timen from Grammarly”
Cool podcast with Yuriy Timen from Grammarly about growing the company. Notice how many known concepts are mentioned, like organic growth, high retention, SEO, etc.
Andrew Chen: “The Power User Curve: The best way to understand your most engaged users”
Segmentation, segmentation, segmentation – Avinash Kaushik has been preaching this for years. But it’s not just demographics you can segment – also behavior. That’s the holy grail to finding power users!
The structure of stand-up comedy. This has nothing to do with growth but storytelling. I’ve long been a huge fan of standup comedy and this beautiful interactive demo proves how deep this art actually goes.