Israel Venture Association 2006 Conference– Plenty to Talk About in Israeli Venture Capital

I am posting from Tel Aviv, Israel, where yesterday I gave one of the keynote speeches at the 2006 Israel Venture Association conference on the subject of best practices for CEO transitions in venture-backed companies.

The conference is very well attended- with over 900 registered participants– which is the largest attendance in its history.  The panel discussion that followed my prepared remarks was remarkably candid. Three seasoned Israeli CEO’s– Dr. Arnon Gat of Negevtech, Ronnie Kenneth of Voltaire, and Itzik Kershenbaum of Envara, joined Moshe Mor of Greylock, Moshe Levin of Tamir Fishman, and me on the panel.  Moderator Aaron Mankovski of Pitango asked very pointed questions about the challenges posed by VC pressures to exit versusa CEO’s desire to build a bigger business. 

The panel broadly agreed that a bad board can kill a company and that both CEO’s and VC’s can do better to manage mutual expectations from the outset of their relationships. 

Israel ranks only behind California and Massachusetts as a center for venture capital investment and for entrepreneurial talent.  India and China may be grabbing the headlines, but Israel is far more developed in terms of supporting the VC/entrepreneur eco-system.  Gossip at the conference about what’s going on in India convinces me that there is a huge opportunity in India– and that it is still very early days in that story.

I can say with confidence that the leaders of Israel fully recognize that the continued growth drivers for the Israeli economy are highly dependent on an environment that contiues to nurture the human capital and innovative spirit that drive venture capital’s remarkable success in Israel.  I am honored to participate in this year’s conference– later today, I will address the IVA’s Young Venture Capitalist Forum about best practices in developing career paths for the next generation of VC’s in Israel.

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