Last week Jewish WhatsApp cofounder Jan Koum sold his company to Facebook for $19 billion; next week he is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to discuss hi-tech opportunities in Israel.
Netanyahu, traveling Sunday to Washington and a meeting with US President Barack Obama, is to go to Silicon Valley on Wednesday in an effort to promote hi-tech investments in Israel. In addition to Koum, Netanyahu is expected to meet with heads of Apple, Flextronics, Linkedin, Ebay and the Sequoia Venture Capital fund.
Netanyahu has made promoting Israeli hi-tech and turning the country into a cybersecurity hub a top priority.
“They speak a lot of Hebrew there [in Silicon Valley], I want to draw our friends back from there to Israel to invest,” Netanyahu said at the Israel Manufacturers Association’s annual event in Tel Aviv on Thursday. “It is very important for me that Israelis, and non-Israelis, will come here and see the talent we have here, the initiatives and the potential of the Israeli economy.”
In addition to meeting the Ukrainian-born Koum, Netanyahu – according to his office – will sign a “strategic cooperation” agreement with California Governor Jerry Brown to promote Israel- California economic ties.
This agreement would give Israeli companies access to iHUB, the California innovation program centered around 16 specific research clusters through state.
The iHubs, according to the California Governor’s Office, “leverage assets such as research parks, technology incubators, universities and federal laboratories to provide an innovation platform for start-up companies, economic development organizations, business groups and venture capitalists.”