(photo credit: Niv Kantor)
Former prime minister Ehud Olmert has joined Genesis Angels, a private
venture-capital fund seeking to invest in “the next big thing” in Israeli
disruptive technology, as chairman of its advisory board.
interested in robotics, in artificial intelligence, in areas which can have a
big impact on the long run,” Olmert, who also chairs the private conglomerate A.
Livnat Holdings and runs a consulting company, told The Jerusalem Post Thursday
in Tel Aviv.
The fund was cofounded by Kazakh investor Kenges Rakishev, a
mining magnate who sees Israeli technology as the key to the future and was
recently named by buzzsparks.org as the eighthlargest private Internet investor
of 2012, and Moshe Hogeg, an Israeli entrepreneur who founded Mobli, a
competitor to Instagram.
“If we take all the APIs, Twitter, Facebook,
Wikipedia, Google Maps and combine them all together, you can start to create
the next layers of reality, which is augmented reality,” Hogeg said. Google
Glass, which overlays its user’s field of vision with a screen, is an example of
“a project that can bring a digital layer on top of reality,” he
“We started with one kind of technology, and now we see more and
more how it can grow,” said Rakishev, who is the fund’s primary
The fund already has invested in a series of companies that
mimic, read and analyze the senses, or promote human interaction through online
media. Beyond Verbal can pick out emotion in audio. Infinity Augmented Reality
developed a Google Glass-like software platform. TriPlay stores and runs
applications on the cloud.
Technology takes time to develop and must be
nurtured, so the fund’s strategy lies in long-term investment, Hogeg
“If you go to a typical investor and tell them, ‘I have a big
vision, but it will take me five years to develop,’ they’ll say, ‘Okay, come
back in four years,’” he said. “Mr. Rakishev doesn’t think of the quick
When asked why he chose to throw his weight behind this fund,
Olmert said: “For the last few years, I was approached by many, many different
hi-tech companies, and the normal case is that young guys with great ideas come
to you and say, ‘Help us raise funds for our new ideas.’ In this particular
case, the one with the money came to me. Now this is a big difference. I feel
more comfortable when I work with someone who takes the money out of his own
pocket to invest in these new technologies.”
Asked if his involvement
meant anything for his return to political life, he said, “Political life is
political life, and in the meantime you have to do things that interests
Rakishev and Hogeg said they have received interest from Forbes
& Manhattan Merchant Bank, and Olmert plans on visiting Kazakhstan in the
near future. But Rakishev will remain the primary investor in the fund.