Hobbit Business Review

Israeli Tech Leaders Are Leaving Their Businesses For Battle: ‘I Want to Be Part of the People Protecting Our Country’

Key Takeaways

  • Tel Aviv is one of the world’s largest technology hubs, with many being called up to join the war.

  • Global companies are reporting a drop in Israeli staffers, with one cybersecurity firm losing 15% of its Israeli workforce to the draft.

Some of the biggest names in Israel’s thriving tech industry are trading the office for the battlefield.

Following Hamas’ attack over the weekend, Israel has called on 300,000 reservists to join its war effort. That includes tech workers, who account for 10% of the Israeli workforce, per Bloomberg.

Tel Aviv was ranked No. 5 for the best global tech ecosystem in 2023, per The Global Startup Ecosystem Report. The industry’s economic impact is valued at $235 billion.

The tech leaders leaving their startups are reportedly ready for duty.

“I want to be prt of the people who are protecting our country,” Itamar Friedman, co-founder and CEO of Israeli artificial intelligence startup CodiumAI, told The Wall Street Journal.

Friedman, who reported for reservist duty, raised $11 million for CodiumAI earlier this year with the help of OpenAI and other investors. He told employees to prepare to work without him for the foreseeable future, according to the outlet.

Shmuel Chafets, co-founder and chairman of the venture capital firm Target Global (one of Israel’s largest, overseeing $3.2 billion in funds), volunteered to join the Israeli army and was deployed to the Gaza Strip.

“We are seeing hundreds of thousands of people getting out of their lives, getting into uniform,” he told Bloomberg TV. “People have been rushing into military service.”

Global companies are also reporting a drop in Israeli staffers.

Cybersecurity firm Armis, which is based in San Francisco, lost about 15% of its Israeli workforce to the draft. “The expectation is that will go up,” said Nadir Izrael, the company’s chief technology officer, per Bloomberg.

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