A week of events in Israel


Yahoos were involved in several events this past week in Israel: the Kinnernet conference, TheMarker Com.Vention, and talks at The Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzliya.

Here are some facts about Israel and its technology sector I've learned over the past few days: it's second only to the United States in total amount of venture capital funding; second only to Canada in number of non-U.S. companies traded on NASDAQ, and has the highest concentration of PhDs per capita in the world. (From a presentation by the Israeli Venture Association.) All this from a country with a population of only 7.3M, that's been in existence for just 60 short years. Before I proceed to describe the events in more detail, I must mention our Israeli partners LabPixies, Gigya, and KonoLive, who are doing incredible work with the Yahoo! Application Platform.

I've heard Kinnernet described as an Israeli Foo Camp, a reference to the invite-only conference hosted by Tim O'Reilly. Kinnernet is an event for the friends of Yossi Vardi, the co-founder of the ICQ instant messaging software. ICQ was acquired by AOL in 1998 for $407M. Since then, Vardi has served his community as an angel investor and iconoclast. He hosts several conferences each year in Israel. Two Yahoos had the privilege of attending Kinnernet this year.

Sophie Major walking into TheMarker Com.VentionTheMarker Com.Vention was organized by TheMarker, a popular economic newspaper in Israel, and hosted by Yossi Vardi. The conference is business-centered, a place for executives to meet and mingle, talk business, and discuss strategy with leaders in the tech and finance industries. There were about a thousand people there. Greg Cohn and Gil Ben-Artzy each represented Yahoo! on discussion panels talking about the future of Internet technology, venture capital, and acquisitions post-Web 2.0. Greg also co-presented a talk on the Yahoo! Open Strategy (YOS) with Sophie Major, who runs Yahoo! Developer Network's international efforts. About 300 people attended each of the panel discussions, and 50 participated in the YOS overview.

3401695202_be8470f96d_sm.jpgOn the day after The Marker conference, we traveled to Jerusalem to talk to a web-technology class at the Hebrew University. This class taught students about contemporary web technology as a compliment to more traditional, theory-driven computer science classes. About a hundred students attended. Sophie started off by introducing the Yahoo! Developer Network. I followed her with a technical overview of some of our more popular web services: YQL, BOSS, Flickr, and YUI. The slides from my talk are available on Slideshare. Students were very interested in YQL. The more memorable questions concerned SLAs for Yahoo! services, YQL caching and rate limiting, and YUI error handling.

Greg Cohn explaining the Yahoo! Open StrategyOn Tuesday, we headed to the IDC (Interdisciplinary Center), a prestigious technology school just outside Tel Aviv. Yaron Orenstein, co-founder of The.co.ils, a popular tech blog, generously contributed his time to help organize the event. Around 75 people, including Yossi Vardi and members of the KonoLive and LabPixies teams were there. Sophie and Greg introduced the Yahoo! Developer Network and Yahoo!'s Open Strategy. I presented an technical tour of YQL, OAuth, FlickrAuth, and YAP. The slides from this presentation are also on Slideshare. Afterwards, Uri Levanon, from Craze Digital, took us out to a great club in central Tel Aviv. We talked a bit more and danced until late, celebrating a successful trip and our last night in Tel Aviv. I very much hope to return soon.

Thanks again to our friends at KonoLive, Thecoils, TheMarker, Craze Digital, The Hebrew University, and IDC for helping us organize this trip and embodying the warmth and generosity we were consistently greeted with throughout our stay. To all the new friends we met on this trip, please keep in touch, and continue to send us your feedback and feature requests. Toda Raba.

Erik Eldridge