IEFF as a Central Exchange in Israeli Silicon Valley Startup Ecosystem

When embarking on this blog I envisioned a roadmap of topics. However, following that path of topics now seems to be driven by events and opportunity. One pending topic is Israeli professional and social groups in Silicon Valley.
Along these lines I recently attended the December meeting of the Israeli Executives and Founders Forum (IEFF) ( This is a very active organization with 1000 members. This past year saw 40 speakers participating at 11 events; five of the six latest events sold out; the largest event had 300 participants. Members are startups, accelerators, investors and service providers. As illustrated by the map below from their website (, the Bay Area is dotted with Israeli-affiliated enterprises concentrated from Menlo Park to Santa Clara, with a bit in San Francisco.
I apologize need to be a bit opaque on specifics of comments made as these are not technically public meetings.
This week’s February meeting presented Jim Scheinman, founder of Maven Ventures, investor in Bebo and Tango, on “The Art of Building Billion Dollar Startups.” Among the takeways: the ideal startup size is 2-3 people: a hacker, a designer and a hustler. A one-person startups can’t easily address those three roles.
IEFF is partially sponsored by the Israeli Cultural Connection at the Palo Alto JCC. The organizers of IEFF are Moshik Raccah, Oded Hermoni, Onne Ganel and Sharon Levite-Vaknin. One of IEFF’s roles in the Silicon Valley tech ecosystem is exchanging the knowledge base from its members’ knowledge of solution providers. Recognizing this IEFF organizer Moshik Raccah recently formed
For the monthly December meeting IEFF organized a “Fireside Chat with Noam Bardin (founder of Waze) and Jonathan Levav.” (Without a fireplace.)
Waze, founded in Israel, presents the nirvana startup growth track that segues to Silicon Valley and culminates in either a public offering or buyout. In this case Google acquired Waze for approximately $1 Billion. Levav interviewed Bardin to explore the lessons learned on that path to acquisition.
Regarding personnel, Waze maintains most (150) employees in Israel, with a more limited 30-employees in the US. For success in arriving attracting investment or acquisition, the person who moves to Silicon Valley must be a founder or CEO. To me this was counter-intuitive. Bardin sees the first person in the Valley to be a decision maker – both to have the gravitas to command instructions to the Israeli team, and to be immediately available on the ground for meetings. Being able to say “I’ll can meet you for breakfast tomorrow” is better than trying to find an elusive time when two parties need to continually check their own travel calendars. Israeli employees, he observed, won’t respond with the same urgency to an American hire.