Tech Triumphs Amidst Turmoil: Insights from Israel’s Resilient Tech Ecosystem during War
By Dana Bublil
October 7th will forever be etched into our collective memories here in Israel. The shock and fear that gripped us when we first witnessed the horrifying footage of the Hamas massacre has transformed into a profound sense of loss that continues to haunt us as the war rages on.
I returned to Israel from a business trip to Abu Dhabi only two days before October 7th, ready to get stuck back into work after the long Jewish holiday season. What ensued were four months that would not only leave me speechless but would teach me lessons for life on courage, determination, heroism, and professionalism.
Beyond the atrocities committed against the people of Israel, and beyond the chilling rise of global anti-semitism (All one needs to do is scroll through TikTok to see the amount of hate), we have witnessed the Israeli tech ecosystem unite and stand firm in the face of adversity.
In the spirit of spreading the light that I have found during one of the darkest periods in Jewish history, I wanted to share some of the lessons I’ve learned from being a part of the Israeli tech ecosystem during this time: the value of Israel’s resilience, and the knowledge that we will emerge stronger and more determined than ever to keep our nation thriving.
We gained perspective
Each and every one of our founders is dedicated to the success of their companies. But when faced with the very real threat to your existence (in every sense of the word), it gives a new perspective.
Uriel Knorovich, CEO of our portfolio company Nimble, said it best in his post, “On normal days I’m putting almost all of my time and efforts into making Nimble a successful company. For me, it’s about building a better and more efficient world. But what’s the point if we can’t even secure the basic tenets of safety and freedom?”
One thing that’s really stood out to me is the number of civilians dropping everything to reserve duty from across all walks of life: tech professionals (who make up 20% of reserves, double their share of the population,) doctors, lawyers, teachers, employees and the self-employed, the young and the old, even Israelis who flew in from abroad with the single goal to serve. These men and women have put both their professional and personal lives on hold to serve their country: a testament to the true resolve within each and every one of us to defend our country and stand up for what we believe in.
Despite key team members across most Israeli startups leaving for reserve duty, there was no pause in productivity — neither for us at Target Global, nor our portfolio companies. This brings me to the next lesson:
We stepped up
A key understanding I have gained over the past four months is the tremendous resilience of our tech ecosystem and its ability to deliver regardless of the challenges we are forced to confront.
So many of our portfolio companies have not only survived this tremendously challenging period, but thrived (and this is without even taking into account the general volatility of the tech market over the last few months). Voyantis, an LTV prediction platform, managed to triple its ARR in 2023. Alta, a business observability platform, finished its very first year with 10 customers, and our FoodTech portfolio companies, Imagindiary and ForSea, experienced breakthroughs in their fields.
Each of these startups hit impressive milestones, despite the fact that 20%+ of their teammates reported for reserves. They, along with so many other startups in the ecosystem, serve as a clear testament to the collective strength and resilience of the Startup Nation.
We re-discovered the power of community
When everything runs smoothly, we tend to focus inward on our own “bubble” and the successes of our companies. However, the atrocities of October 7th, and the subsequent war, put the magic of community and civil society on full display.
We not only saw Israeli companies powering through, but we saw Israel’s tech community as a whole, put aside whatever they were doing to dedicate their efforts to the greater good of their country. This feeling of needing to give had a profound impact on our Target Global team in Tel Aviv. While continuing to operate in ‘business as usual’ mode, we spent every free moment volunteering to support various initiatives helping everyone from the children to the elderly. The tech sector worked together with NGO’s and the public sector and this collaboration managed to move mountains. I have never felt such a dissonance of pride and devastation at the same time.
We witnessed so many initiatives popping up including Hightech4srael, Brothers in Arms, One Heart, Children’s Fund, and so many more, all singularly focused on helping in times of crisis- from gathering funds and procuring army equipment to putting resources in place for those displaced and those left orphans.
These organizations used the unique entrepreneurial spirit of our Startup Nation, one of devotion and execution, and translated it to serve the country to a tremendous degree in times of crisis.
The Israeli high-tech industry will overcome the challenges of the war and forge forward once more
On a personal level, I remain more confident than ever in the ability of Israeli startups to plow forward and execute, even in the most challenging circumstances. And as an investor at Target Global, I have never been more proud of our impact on the global technology revolution, come what may.
This war is not over, and we are all here working towards a new “war-life balance”. On the one hand, we have giant holes in our hearts to mourn for those lost on October 7th as we continue to pray for those putting their lives at risk daily for our safety, and to demand the release of our 136 hostages (At the time of writing these lines, we learned the tragic news that approximately 31 abductees were murdered in the captivity of Hamas). On the other, we fight to ensure our economy and our tech ecosystem withstand this devastating time and continue to champion our nation. And on a third front, we understand the need to fight the rising antisemitism, a war as real as that on our borders.
Israel’s high-tech industry has displayed its unique ability to step up to the occasion in times of crisis and I am confident it will continue to be a key pillar of our nation’s success during such a challenging time. By combining our resilience, community, and maintaining perspective, we remain inspired to continue fighting for our survival.
These strengths, combined with the desire and commitment of the high-tech industry to continue leading the economy, ensure that Startup Nation will remain at the forefront of global technology and as the engine of Israel’s economy- no matter what.