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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Israeli High Tech's first casualty

Israel's high tech industry may have suffered its first casualty of the current operation in Gaza. A key backer in Israel of something called the Y Combinator has withdrawn his support in response to its founder's pro-Hamas tweets (Hat Tip: Sunlight). The founder - Paul Graham - is a major high tech figure in Silicon Valley.

This is from the first link.
A heated exchange on Twitter between venture capitalist giant Paul Graham and supporters of Israel, could delay plans by Graham’s Y Combinator’s accelerator to recruit in Israel. 
Tweets posted by Graham that described the destruction wrought by the IDF in Gaza, but without any citations of Hamas attacks on Israel. That led heavyweight Israeli venture capital figure Roi Carthy to announce he was withdrawing an offer to help Y Combinator (YC) recruit potential participants in Israel.
Y Combinator is considered one of the most prestigious accelerator and start-up venture capital funds in the world. With over 700 start-ups funded since 2005, valued at over $30 billion, acceptance into the program is as close to a guarantee of commercial and funding success as a start-up can hope for. According to Graham, one of the group’s four founders, the average valuation of Y Combinator-backed companies is $45.2 million.
All of the group’s programs take place in Silicon Valley, and Y Combinator generally focuses on American start-ups. Cognizant of the start-up scenes elsewhere, however, the group announced several months ago that it was planning to step up its recruiting elsewhere. Israel was in Y Combinator’s sightsl, and Carthy, a managing partner at Tel Aviv-Sao Paolo investment firm Initial Capital — as well as former Israeli correspondent for the TechCrunch website, which carries stories about Israeli start-ups and tech firms — promised to help get the word out about Y Combinator’s programs to Israeli start-ups.
“A couple of months ago though, I was connected to a YC partner who is planning to be in Israel early August to spread the YC gospel,” Carthy wrote in a blog post. “I was happy to lend a hand by organizing a meet-up at a local bar and getting the word out. “But I am now rescinding my offer,” Carthy wrote. “I will not lend my hand to an organization that is comfortable with its founder criticizing a nation, while at the same time, pitching to incubate its best and brightest.”
Graham, said Carthy, makes no secret of his sympathy for the Palestinian position, while ignoring the context of Israeli responsive actions, such as Israel’s decision to hit Gaza terrorist targets after facing thousands of rockets fired by Hamas terrorists before Operation Protective Edge. “Paul has been making his views known via tweets over the past few years,” wrote Carthy. “Nothing new under the sun in this respect,” he noted.
“It’s not uncommon to accept that an individual’s views do not reflect that of his employer. However, much as it would be unacceptable to separate misogynistic views of a founder from reflecting upon his company, I cannot separate Paul’s continued views about Israel from YC,” Carthy added.
Read the whole thing. I just hope Roi is able to come up with something equivalent either on his own or with someone else.

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