Rufus Wainwright has announced that he will return to give two concerts in Tel Aviv, Israel in June 2012 The first will take place at Ronit’s Farm near Kibbutz Gaash, about fifteen minutes north of Tel Aviv, and the second, at the Reading 3 club in the city. Wainwright’s first concert in Tel Aviv was in 2008 when he sold out two shows and praised the food of Tel Aviv saying he was “eating [his] way through Jaffa”. The first concert, at Ronit’s Farm, on June 3, will also feature a special VIP lounge and exclusive afterparty with a DJ and special guests! The second concert, which was announced in early May, will take place on June 4, 2012 at the Reading 3 club. Rufus Wainright will perform in Tel Aviv on June 3 and 4, 2012. Tickets are on sale starting at NIS 190.
Google first opened its office in Israel in 2006. I visited two of the four floors used by Google on the 21st and 22nd floors of the famous Levinstein Tower in downtown Tel Aviv. Although not as impressive as the famed Googleplex in Mountain View, California, the offices offer magnificent views of the Mediterranean sea. Each room has its own theme, with walls and furnishings of all colors. There is a meeting room filled with giant legos, a pinball machine, Nintendo Wii, Playstation and other games. There is also a fully equipped music room with guitars, drums, microphones, professional sound system, etc. Add to that a silent room, a 3D printer, and free food at each floor. The feeling of being in a kindergarten almost made me forget that I was in one of the world’s largest multinational companies.
Google also employs about 80 engineers in its second office in Israel located in Haifa, Israel’s technological center. The Haifa office is just 2 thousand meters away from the beach; I saw pictures but I did not visit that office. The second office also has toys in the lobby, game rooms, beanbag chairs, free food, and so on. Some affirm these Google methods do not enhance creativity. Personally, I believe that, at least, it incentives employees to spend more time together and create stronger personal bonds, which will pay off later by increasing team work. Here is a video about work-life balance at Google Israel.
After visiting the premises, Inna Weiner, a software engineer, presented products and services that have started and/or are being developed in Israel:
Live Results is being developed in Israel. It allows people to find data they are looking for directly in the Google webpage, without the need to click on a link that will direct visitors to a website. For instance, you search “Weather in Rio de Janeiro” and it directly shows the forecast instead of only links to websites (in case you are curious, it is 25 degrees Celsius in the Beautiful city today). I believe Live Results is an effort to make users spend more time in the Google page. By the way, in April, it was the first time people spent more time on Facebook than on Google in Brazil.
Person finder application. An app that was very useful during the Turkey Earthquake. Whenever a natural disaster takes place, the person finder application goes live, aiming to provide reliable and actual information about missing people. People basically have two buttons, “I am looking for someone” and “I have info about someone.”. I enjoy this kind of innovation; it makes me think of Chief Almir using Google Earth to fight deforestation in the Amazon rainforest. The person finder application was developed as part of the 20% of free time that engineers have at Google to work on any project of their choice, as long as that project has been approved by their superior. Bear in mind that whatever is developed during these 20% of “free time” is owned by Google, not by the employees. By the way, people in the Sales & Mktg department don’t have the 20% of free time privilege. However, in the Tel Aviv office they can still use the 3D printer and eat for free all day long.
Google Suggest – The Autocomplete Search Tool that let us “search faster than the speed of typing” was fully developed in Israel. Personally, I find this tool way too intrusive. I don’t like to have the impression that I am so dumb that an algorithm can predict what I am about to search for. I am afraid that tomorrow a machine will know what I am about to think.
Digital Dead Sea Scrolls Project. Google has digitized one of the oldest manuscript ever discovered and allows everyone to examine it online with high resolution. For instance, if you search for “And the world shall dwell with the lamb,” you can instantly find the exact location in the digital version of the original scroll. This project was such a success that in the first day it was live more people saw the dead sea scrolls than in the entire year before.
Inna was very excited to present the work Google has done with the Yad Vashem memorial, dedicated to victims of the Holocaust. This collaborationhas created an online collaborative archive of photographs of the museum. Basically, Google uploaded thons of physical documents, such as photos. Anyone, anywhere can not only find information about each person and/or location in the pictures but also easily add information.
Google Insights for search started in Israel and now is being improved by Google engineers all over the world. It is a free tool to analyze search queries. However, only ratios and not the total number of queries are revealed. For instance, you can verify that the total amount of searches for the term “Pele” was about three times higher than ”Maradona” in the past 30 days.
In-Page Analytics was fully developed in Israel. Basically, it lets you quantify precise information about your website. For instance, you can measure the percentage of visitors who clicked on any clickable item in your website.
CHASING ICE (D: Jeff Orlowski, USA)
BIG BOYS GONES BANANAS!* (D: Fredrik Gertten, Sweden)
G-DOG (D: Freida Mock, USA)
WE ARE WISCONSIN (D: Amie Williams, USA)
LIFE IN STILLS (D: Tamar Tal, Israel)
BROOKLYN CASTLE (D: Katie Dellamaggiore, USA)
5 BROKEN CAMERAS (D: Guy Davidi, Emad Burnat; France, Israel, Palestine)
JASON BECKER, NOT DEAD YET (D: Jessie Vile, UK)
CALL ME KUCHU (D:Malika Zouhali-Worrall, Katherine Fairfax Wright; USA)
THE WORLD BEFORE HER (D: Nisha Pahuja; Canada, Germany, USA, UK)
A film chronicling the Israeli justice system’s dealings in the Palestinian territories has snagged yet another international prize, this time in Canada.
Israeli filmmaker Ra’anan Alexandrowicz’ “The Law in These Parts” has won the Special Jury Prize in the international feature category at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, which took place in Toronto and is considered North America’s leading event of its kind.
Ever since it won the Best Documentary Award at the Jerusalem Film Festival last year, the film has garnered critical acclaim and prestigious prizes worldwide. One such win includes the World Cinema Jury Prize in the documentary category at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year.
“The Law in These Parts” features a series of interviews with the judges and officials who architected a system of long-term military jurisdiction in the West Bank and Gaza, as well as historical footage showing the enactment of these laws upon the Palestinian population.
Four other Israeli documentaries competed in the Canadian festival this year: Tamar Tal’s “Life in Stills,” Miri and Erez Laufer’s “One Day After Peace,” Guy Davidi and Emad Burnat’s “Five Broken Cameras” and Silvina Landsmann’s “Soldier/Citizen.”
The weekend was a successful one for Israeli filmmakers abroad; in addition to Alexandrowicz’ win in Canada, two Israeli directors grabbed prizes at the San Francisco International Film Festival. Nadav Lapid’s “Policeman” won the New Director’s Prize, while Eran Kolirin’s “The Exchange” won the Fipresci Prize, which is selected by critics and aims to promote film art.
The “Policeman” film’s triumph is not surprising considering its box office success in France and the fact it has been purchased for distribution in the United States. The drama, which follows the life of a member of an Israeli elite anti-terrorist squad, has also won Best Film at the Buenos Aires International Film Festival last month.
Another success story for Israel’s chip industry: AeroScout, a developer of WiFi-based RFID tags used for the tracking and monitoring of valuable enterprise assets, is holding talks for its acquisition at a price of $240 million, Calcalist learned.
According to estimates in the industry, the buyer is a global service and infrastructures company that is expected to turn AeroScout into its development center in Israel. After the acquisition, AeroScout’s executive managers, including co-founder and CEO Yuval Bar-Gil, will likely stay on to head the new R&D center.
Estimates are that the deal’s timing stems from demands by the company’s investors, among them several veteran VC funds, to see some return on their investment and from the realization that although AeroScout is a growing enterprise, it operates in a small-scale market.
The company’s estimated annual revenues are $40-50 million whereas the market for RFID tags for medical or industrial purposes grosses an estimated $150 million altogether, making it hard for companies in the industry to generate high enough values to trade on the stock exchange.
AeroScout was founded in 1999 and has since raised $83 million in six financing rounds. During that time, co-founder Albert Ezra left the company and the founders’ stock was diluted by eight VC funds which invested in the company at various stages.
AeroScout’s largest investor is the Pitango VC fund, which holds a 20% stake in the company. Israeli VC fund Star, which is no longer active on the investment market, holds 18% of the company’s stock and US Menlo Ventures holds an 18% stake as well.
Additional investors include Grey lock Partners, Evergreen and the VC divisions of electronics giants Intel and Cisco, each holding an estimated 7%-9% stake in the company.
Bar-Gil and the executive management own another 15% of the company’s stock.