ISRAEL AT WARTech industry mobilizes: Israeli startups reevaluate operations amidst reserve call-up
ISRAEL AT WAR
Tech industry mobilizes: Israeli startups reevaluate operations amidst reserve call-up
Many senior executives, including founders, in Israeli and foreign startup companies have been called up for IDF reserve service, severely harming companies relying on young workers
The extensive recruitment of IDF reserves due to the military operation in Gaza, estimated at over 300,000 people, also includes founders and executives of Israeli and foreign startup companies.
"I want to be part of the people who protect our country," Itamar Friedman, founder and CEO of the artificial intelligence startup CodiumAI, who has been called up for reserve service, told the Wall Street Journal. His company raised $11 million this year led by Wayne Ventures and TLV Partners with angel investors that include executives from companies such as OpenAI and VMware.
Dori Yona, co-founder and CEO of the startup SimpleClosure from Santa Monica, was also interviewed by the Wall Street Journal and said that he is preparing for a possible return to Israel. "I am in contact with my reserve division and waiting to see when they will need me," he said. The company's other co-founder Nimrod Ram may also be called to the reserves, so the company's ten employees are looking for solutions to a situation where the two founders will not be available for a while. "They are trying to make it as easy as possible for us," Yona said.
Avi Eyal, one of the founders of the venture capital company Entrée Capital, estimated that in most Israeli startups between 10% and 30% of the employees were called into the reserves. Eric Reiner, founder of the New York venture capital fund Vine Ventures added that in some companies it is about half of the employees. "These guys who serve my country have been called up and are separated from their wives and children," Reiner said. About eight of the companies in Wayne's portfolio are based in Israel, many of which he says were founded by former IDF officers.
According to Roy Glasberg, one of the founders of the AnD Ventures VC fund in Tel Aviv, early-stage startups, whose employees and managers are mostly young, will be affected to the greatest extent.
However, Eyal said that the work at the companies continues and is simply transferred to teams in Europe or the U.S. "There will be maybe a week or two where it will be difficult to adjust to the new normal, but the work will be done," he said.
The Israeli startup industry has not had an easy year, this against the background of the global slowdown in the technology sector and the consequences of the judicial reform. Israeli startup companies raised $873.9 million in venture capital in the second quarter of this year, down from around $3.7 billion in the same period last year, according to data collected by KPMG.