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Israel, U.S. Connect on Venture Capital

by Tom Tugend

May 27, 2009 | 6:00 pm

A couple of years ago, Israeli television came up with a new show called “Mesudarim,” which was quickly labeled the Israeli version of HBO’s “Entourage.”

But instead of lusting for Hollywood stardom, the four young protagonists of “Mesudarim” were high-tech types who had sold their startup company to an American conglomerate for $217 million and now faced the challenge of dealing with their newfound fortune.

The choice of role models is telling, because Israel’s high-tech innovations are cutting a wide swath in the global business world, completely out of proportion to the size and population of the country.

For instance, Israeli companies have some 7,000 patents registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and, after the United States, Israel has the largest number of NASDAQ-listed companies.

The next step in growing Israel’s stake in the world’s economy is to link Israeli inventiveness and quick development turnaround to the marketing/communicating skills and investment muscle of American managers and investors.

To encourage this linkup, some 50 American and Israeli top executives and venture capitalists with experience in the Israeli market will speak at The Israel Conference on June 4 in Los Angeles and explore opportunities for other California companies to follow in their footsteps.

The theme of the all-day meeting at the Luxe Summit Hotel in West Los Angeles is “Cool Business From the Shores of the Mediterranean to the Shores of the Pacific: Expanding Opportunities Between Israel and California.”

“There are tremendous synergies in the technology communities of Israel and California, and we expect this conference to ignite deals,” said Sharona Justman, conference co-chair and managing director of STEP Strategy Advisors.

Glenn Yago, director of capital studies at the Milken Institute and head of its new Israel Center, noted that, “Innovation through improvisation is the strategic advantage that Israel has developed. In the past few years, major corporations such as Google, Intel, Cisco, Oracle and Microsoft have increased their offices in Israel.”

Session topics at the meeting will cover high tech, clean tech, medical devices, powerful consumer brands and entertainment media technology. Speakers include executives from Sequoia Capital, Shamrock Holdings, The Westley Group, Mass Animation and their Israeli counterparts.

Although Israel has not been unaffected by the global recession, the impact has been softened because the country “didn’t have as much to lose and was largely spared the bursting of the housing bubble,” said David Blumberg, managing partner of Blumberg Capital.

For additional information on the conference, including registration, visit www.TheIsraelConference.org, call (310) 445-5388, or e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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