Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The San Diego-Israel mobile nexus

This month, Levi Shapiro writes about the mobile phone startup industry in Israel. It calls back to mind the links between San Diego and Israel’s mobile phone industries.

Yes, CommNexus has run events involving Israeli companies. Yes, Andy Viterbi has an honorary degree from Technion and Irwin (and Joan) Jacobs have named the graduate school.

But as Levi notes, many young Israeli men learn about radios during their mandatory military service. Our interviews included a few examples:
  • One example was Bar-Giora Goldberg, who did his bachelor’s and master’s at Technion and spent a decade with the Israeli military doing spread spectrum, before taking a 1977-1978 sabbatical at Linkabit and coming back for good in 1980. He founded the first Linkabit spinoff (Sciteq), and worked with other local startups (including Peregrine Semiconductor) before cofounding Avaak.
  • Then there is Itzhak Gurantz, who also did his bachelor’s and master’s at Technion applying to the Berkeley PhD program while on reserve duty in the Army. He went from Berkeley (via a friend of Viterbi’s) to join Linkabit, and then on to start ComStream and Entropic, among other positions in the local telecom industry.
  • On our list — but not yet interviewed — is Eric Paneth, another Technion & Linkabit alumnus who is founding CEO of Orckit.
When I met Levi at the USC conference in August, he obviously had some mobile colleagues in San Diego, so I’m surprised he didn’t think these (or some other) connections worth mentioning. I guess I’m the historian and he’s consulting to firms trying to make a buck today.