Bottom line, I believe a gap does still exist, but it's closing, and there are many of us working to close the gap completely.
But a word to the wise for Israeli entrepreneurs, investors in Israeli startups, as they say in the London Tube:
MIND THE GAP!Where are the main remaining differences (well, beyond the better weather here in the Middle East, better food, and the Power That Is being a local call...)?
Over time I will revisit this, but let me just highlight a few areas worth further exploration:
1. We started later. Well, we started way before, like, say, three thousand years ago...but then took a break (for about two thousand years). Silicon Valley got going in the 1960s, hit its stride in the 1970s, and has never looked back. And that was on the base of a country that has enjoyed a somewhat stable government for 200 years. We are operating in a political reality formalized 60 years ago (that has never enjoyed more than a week or two of stability). Our start-up culture really only got kick started about 20 years ago, in the late 1980s. Really picked up only in the 1990s.
2. We Speak Hebrew. We really do. My mother still can't believe it (really, she asks, "what do the kids speak in school to each other?" I say, "Hebrew." She says, "and they understand each other?"). You see, we literally had to recreate a society after two thousands years of exile -- part of that was breathing new life into an old language. Maybe you haven't realized it -- but not too many people speak Hebrew...which means at first we were a bit cut off from the global culture. Now many of us speak English as well...but we still think in Hebrew.
3. We are far away. OK, so no matter how much my friends in Tel Aviv or Long Island pretend, Israel is in the Middle East. We are not in Europe, we are very far from the US, or any other market for our companies. Sure, its a lot easier to connect today, but air travel costs are going up again, and people still want to see people when they do business together.
4. We know what's best. Maybe as a result of that whole "chosen people" thing, or being on edge for 60+ years, Israelis have a "we know what's best" attitude, that sometimes makes dealing with us...a little rough. But we are learning, at least in our public behavior, to become more "American" (as my partner Lior says). At meetings we now say things like "how interesting" when really we mean....
These are just some highlights -- and we are quickly closing the gap. I will write more on how and why that is happening. But until it's completely closed, take someone's hand to make it across.