Yossi Vardi, popularly known as the godfather of the Israeli tech-startup industry speaks exclusively to BOOM on what it takes to create a startup-friendly city, and the ingredients that make a successful startup company.
Yossi Vardi has till date invested in 85 companies, several of which matured to big enterprises or were sold to global tech giants. One of his first Internet investments, Mirabilis – creator of the ICQ instant messaging software –was sold to AOL for $407 million, Brightcove, TheGiftsProject (sold to eBay) and FoxyTunes (sold to Yahoo).
Yossi also serves as a strategic advisor to Amazon and AOL. Among his other recent high-tech projects, he was involved in the creation of Answers.com, the first investor in Download Accelerator, which has over 125 million registered users and delivers millions of files daily, an early investor in Gteko which was sold to Microsoft, in Airlink — a manufacturer of wireless data links, Scopus and number of other companies. He is a venture partner and one of the initiators of Pitango — one of Israel’s largest venture capital funds, and on the advisory committee of 3i.
Veteran of a long civil service career, Yossi Vardi previously served in the Government of Israel as Director General of the Ministry of Development (being then the youngest ever appointed — at the age of 27), as the North-American Director of the Investment Authority and as the Director General of the Ministry of Energy, leading the oil related negotiations in the Israeli — Egyptian peace talks.
Yossi is a legend in Israel for his shrewd investments but also for his effort to build not just companies but communities. In his conversation with BOOM, he emphasizes this point, “Ideas are worth nothing if the people behind them are not good. The people always come first.”