Gideon Argov was living in the United States in June 1982 when his father, Shlomo, the Israeli ambassador to the United Kingdom, was shot and critically wounded by three Palestinian terrorists outside London’s Dorchester Hotel.
While the failed assassination left his father paralyzed and triggered the First Lebanon War, Argov was determined to keep alive his father’s diplomatic values, spirit and desire to bring people together.
As a diplomat’s son, Argov spent his early years traversing the globe, representing the State of Israel. From a young age, he remembers both growing up with a distinctly global outlook on life and being taught the importance of the Jewish concept of tikkun olam (repairing the world).
Nearly four decades after the attack and still retaining those values instilled in him during his childhood, the now-successful businessman and investor has launched a double bottom-line venture fund, not only measuring investments by profit, but also by their positive social impact.
“When something undeniably horrible happens to you or someone close to you, you can take that pain and you can do different things with it,” Argov, whose father died in 2003, told The Jerusalem Post.
“You can be bitter and unhappy, and you can be forgiven for being so. You can be apathetic and say this is the way the world is, and you can be forgiven for thinking so. Or you can say, let’s try and live up to the ideals of this person who was a tremendous example for many people.”
That desire to advance those ideals first led to the creation of the Argov Fellows Program in Leadership and Diplomacy at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya. Now running for 13 years, many of the program’s graduates hold senior positions in government ministries and bodies, NGOs and businesses.
In 2015, eager for his young daughters to also consider Israel as their home, Argov moved here with his family from the United States for two years.
“It became obvious during those two years that it would be really special if we could combine Israel, which has developed into an incredible technology and investment powerhouse, with an element of tikkun olam, but in a way that wouldn’t compromise either ambition,” said Argov.
Aiming for that combination, he partnered with Ran Simha and Ayelet Frish last year to found New Era Capital Partners, a Tel Aviv-based fund investing in early revenue-stage technology companies with a positive social and environmental impact. Portfolio companies are assessed according to ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) and responsible investment criteria.
Earlier this month, New Era announced the closing of an initial $60-million fund. Argov leads the fund’s operations in Boston, and also serves as an advisory director of Berkshire Partners, a Boston-based private equity investment firm.
“The fund is a small but unique approach that says we can have the best of the two worlds of investment and tikkun olam,” he said.
“It also rests on empirical evidence, which is astonishing. There is evidence that the best-run businesses are those that also have a positive global human impact of some kind, as the late President Shimon Peres liked to call it.”
Chemi Peres, the son of the former president, chairs the advisory board of New Era Capital Partners, where he is joined by a series of experienced business and technology leaders including John Chambers, Orit Gadiesh, Jonathan Kolber, Eli Kalif, Dr. Ido Schoenberg and Dr. David Agus.
New Era has invested in eight companies to date, both in Israel and abroad, including public transit optimization start-up Optibus, digital thread dyeing system manufacturer Twine Solutions, workforce management platform Papaya Global and web accessibility firm User1st.
“We are early in this game in Israel, and I am hopeful that we can build a brand associated with double bottom line and ESG investing,” Argov said.
“My father was a diplomat – and diplomacy is about building bridges, not war. There are plenty of people who can make war – but diplomacy is about avoiding war, building bridges and bringing people closer together,” he added.
“This completely connects to the philosophy that we have at New Era, which is about building bridges from Israeli businesses to markets and partners all over the world.”
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