Just back from dinner with some of the core players of the nascent but quickly growing Israeli game industry. We are talking about video games, PC games, console games...you know, next generation Pong type stuff.
Seriously, was part of a pre-conference dinner with Jesse Sutton, CEO of Majesco Entertainment (NASDAQ: COOL), who is headlining tomorrow's IGDA (Israeli Game Developers Association) conference in Jerusalem, full schedule please see here . Special thanks to JVP for hosting the conference at the Maabada , the super funky performing arts space created out of a warehouse left over from the original Jerusalem train station (that yes, ran all the way to Damascus in its heyday...may that day return soon). For a taste of the space conference will be in:
One of the visionaries of the Israeli creative potential is Erel Margalit, founder of JVP , one of the few venture funds in Israel to get serious about games. Erel is also the core philanthropist behind the creation of the the Maabada. My former partner, Elie Wurtman , now a partner at Benchmark , is a big believer in the Israeli game industry -- he was an early investor in Double Fusion, Funtactix, and Game Array...and I would not be surprised if he invests more in this space.
My good friend Guy Ben-Dov organized tonight's dinner, as well as much of the conference tomorrow. Guy is a co-founder of Double Fusion , in which I have the good fortune of another co-founder, past Chairman, and investor through our fund, Jerusalem Capital . Double Fusion is a leader in in-game advertising, which is part of the trend to bring games "into the mainstream," but as many of you know game publishing is already a $25 Billion+ business, so already a nice "niche."
Sitting around a gourmet dinner table (Canella, definitely recommend the vegan options, which is all I ever eat) in Jerusalem, talking about fantasy games within sight of the Old City walls, is really a wild experience. Nowhere else does one feel the loop between virtual-to-real and back again as in Jerusalem, a place of legend and myth but also bubbling center of state of the art technology development.
Sitting around the table were founders of companies backed by world class venture funds such as Accel, Benchmark, JVP, and of course Jerusalem Capital. And it felt so natural to be talking about the Israeli contingent that was at the Burning Man Festival this year (on of the Israelis at dinner, a founder of Funtactix , was already at Burning Man back in 1996!), cutting edge game development, and trading war stories of business development in Taiwan.
While obviously tech entrpeneurs anywhere in the world are a special breed of humankind, the crossroads that is Israel, and even more so at times Jerusalem, brings out an even more unique strand...that can handle living at the outermost edges of virtuality, while at the same time raising families at the heart of real world conflict, while hopefully remaining somewhat sane.
Come to the conference tomorrow if you can, if not in person than in spirit -- Israel will continue to develop its game industry, do not be surprised if the next AAA title is worked on in Jerusalem, Netanya, Haifa, or Arad.
May we be blessed to have incredible realistic fantasy wargames, but only peace in our realities.