NOTHING SUCCEEDS like success, and two very successful men, Oracle Corp. CEO Larry Ellison, whom Forbes Magazine ranks the 11th wealthiest man in the world, and Sheldon Adelson, whom Forbes ranks as the 3rd richest man in America, were both in Israel this week - and both were feted and showered with honors. Adelson, who is no stranger to Israel, was here with his Israeli-born wife Miri, initially to accompany a delegation of Republican Congressmen (the couple has been accompanying such delegations - both Democrats and Republicans - for the past 15 years). But they stayed on for the Taglit-Birthright mega-event, addressed by Likud-leader Binyamin Netanyahu, who took time out of his election campaign to honor both the Adelsons and Taglit-Birthright, thus further fueling speculation that Adelson, who as a boy used to deliver newspapers, has launched his new give-away daily tabloid to support Netanyahu's bid to once again become prime minister. Prior to attending the mega-event, the Adelsons were at Beit Hanassi where they announced that they had increased their contribution to Taglit-Birthright to $60 million, thus enabling any eligible young Jewish man or woman who wants to do so to come to Israel.
Ellison, also a member of the tribe and celebrating the 30th anniversary of Oracle, was less familiar on a face-to-face basis than Adelson, this being his first visit to the country. Still, he met with President Shimon Peres and the two dined together in Tel Aviv. Adelson, however, got to see Peres twice in a four-day period, having accompanied the Congressional delegation to Beit Hanassi on Thursday and then attending the Taglit-Birthright event on Sunday.
Both Adelson and Ellison are rags to riches stories, though Adelson quips that his family was so poor they couldn't even afford the rags. In the few days he was in Israel, Ellison, who was accompanied by Democratic Congressman Tom Lantos, was briefed by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Chief of General Staff Gabi Ashkenazi and other leading figures. He also addressed a conference of some 1,000 people organized by Oracle Israel at The Avenue, the upscale convention center near Airport City and revealed that he had launched Oracle on his own, because at the time no-one was interested in his database vision, and he was unable to raise any venture capital. All he had at his disposal was $1,200, which comprised the sum total of his savings.
At a reception on Saturday night at the residence of US Ambassador Richard Jones, Ellison was, of course, the center of attention, with almost everyone present trying to exchange a few words with him. There were a lot of successful Israeli businessmen who, like Ellison, had started with next-to-nothing and had built up multi-million dollar enterprises. Among those vying for Ellison's attention on the lawns of the US residence were Dov Lautman, Shlomo Nehama, Dan Zisskind, Zohar Zisapel, Eitan Ben Eliyahu, Amos Shapira, Yossi Vardi, Orna Berry, Ministers Isaac Herzog and Gideon Ezra and scores of others. But the person who really caught the attention of Ellison and his wife Melanie was Anashim U'Machshevim's Dahlia Pelled, who also happens to be the president of Israel's Society of Magicians. When she started to do magic tricks with business cards, Ellison and his wife were totally fascinated, as were the people around them. In fact, for a few minutes, Pelled succeeded in stealing the show from the man of the moment.
SOME LOCAL business tycoons keep permanent reminders of their early days of struggle so they will always be able to appreciate what they have attained and not take success for granted. Among them is SANO founder Bruno Landsberg, who celebrated his 87th birthday in the company of his loyal employees and members of his family. The event was held in his office and the birthday cake included an icing sugar model of the first bottle of detergent produced by SANO in its founding year of 1959. The energetic Landsberg, who looks much younger than his biological age, still keeps a bottle from the original stock on his table to remind himself of where he started and how far along the road he's come.
THERE MUST be something in Romania that preserves its natives even after they spend years in other countries. Sammy Ofer, who like Landsberg, was born in Romania and is also well into his 80s, is embarking with great enthusiasm on a new venture. Together with Udi Angel, Ofer is setting up a new division of the Ofer Group to be known as Ofer Media. The two men strongly believe that the communications media will undergo a huge revolution over the next decade and Ofer Media is an investment arm that will acquire media outlets in Israel and abroad. Angel already owns stock in Channel Two franchisee Reshet. Ofer Media will be managed by Avi Zvi, who for the past seven years was deputy CEO of Netvision and responsible for the development of the Nana Internet portal.
BRAINSTORM CELL Therapeutics Inc., a New York and Petah Tikva-based developer of adult stem cell technologies and therapeutics, has announced the appointments of Dr. Jacob Frenkel, vice chairman of American International Group Inc., and Harvey Krueger, vice chairman emeritus of Lehman Brothers Inc., as members of the company's Advisory Board. Frenkel, who is also chairman and CEO of the Group of Thirty (G-30), was previously chairman of Merrill Lynch International, prior to which he served two terms as Governor of the Bank of Israel and is commonly credited with reducing inflation, removing foreign exchange controls and liberalizing Israel's financial markets. Before that, he served as the economic counselor and director of research at the International Monetary Fund, and was a chaired professor of economics at the University of Chicago and at Tel Aviv University. A graduate of the Hebrew University and the University of Chicago, Frenkel is a 2002 Israel Prize laureate in economics and a recipient of several honorary degrees and awards from various universities and governments. Krueger is a member of the board of Duff and Phelps LLC, Chaus Inc., Hansard Global PLC and Delta Galil Industries Ltd. He is generally credited with bringing Israel and its companies to the international capital markets. A graduate of Columbia University College and Law School, Krueger is a recipient of the distinguished John Jay Award from Columbia, and holds honorary degrees from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Bar Ilan University and The Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya. BrainStorm is engaged in the development of long-term remedies for life-threatening neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson's, ALS and MS."
ALTHOUGH HE's not a florist by profession, Ramat Hasharon Mayor Itzik Rochberger strongly believes in the Interflora slogan "Say it with flowers." Rochberger, a strong proponent for aesthetics, which he says make his constituents prouder of their environment and aware of where their taxes are going, encourages the planting of flowers in many of Ramat Hasharon's open spaces. Rochberger and his team tour the town two or three times a week on the lookout for ugly sites that require beautification. Whenever he finds one, he orders municipal employees to clean up the area and plant flowers. The policy is reminiscent of that of legendary Jerusalem mayor the late Teddy Kollek who was responsible for the creation of many beautiful parks and gardens in the capital. Tel Aviv, by the way, has also become much more flower conscious and many islands of flowers now divide and adorn the main highways of the city.
THE ELECTIONS for the presidency of the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce are due to take place on October 10, and so far it looks as if present incumbent and former MK Uriel Lynn is a shoe-in, because up till now, no one else has submitted their candidacy. Of course it's always possible that a dark horse may emerge in the last moment, but for the time being Lynn is the Federation's present and future president.
DOROT WATER Control Systems has announced the appointment of Gideon Kedar as vice president marketing in place of Yaacov Pedhatzur, who is returning to Netafim to take on the position of manager for Eastern Asia. Kedar was previously Dorot's manager for the Israeli and African markets which increased considerably under his stewardship.
MIGDAL CAPITAL Markets has announced that Yair Aharoni , who headed its Provident Platinum division, will step down from this position but continue his association with the company in the capacity of special consultant. He will be replaced at Provident Platinum by Yossi Cohen.
TECHNION PRESIDENT Yitzhak Apeloig has been awarded the prestigious Walker Prize in recognition of his work on the chemistry of organic silicon. The prize is awarded every two years by the giant German firm Walker, to a leading scientist in the field of chemistry. Apeloig is the first Israeli recipient.
SAREL SUPPLIES and Services for Medicine Ltd., has approved the appointment of Avi Buskila as its new CEO. The appointment was approved after the board of directors had examined all the responses to its tender. Buskila, 46, was previously responsible for the acquisition of equipment and medical supplies for all government hospitals. He replaces Dr. Moshe Moda'i the founding CEO of Sarel who served in the position for 13 years.