Seventeen years ago when I started looking into the idea of doing business in Israel, a friend of mine told me to give some guy who lived in Los Angeles, by the name of Jon Medved, a call before he packed up his family to move to Israel.
Yup, successful and prosperous Americans were moving to Israel and breaking new ground in Israel's emerging technology economy.
Before Jon moved, I gave him a call, told him what I was up to, and he told me to keep in touch and let him know when I was ready to come to Israel for a visit.
He moved, and eventually I started making the trek to and from Israel to become part of the planet's most interesting and fun place to work with some very smart and good people.
Not only did Jon and his family move to Israel, but so did his Dad, who, whenever I visited Israel, would welcome me and take me to lunch. Much like my Dad, he saw the spark in my eyes as I made my travels back and forth because I "got it" that there was something very special indeed about Israel.
Professionally, I got to work with Jon on one of the Internet's earliest companies, Accent Software. Post-Accent, I followed Jon's career in his doing consulting gigs and eventually turning into a very hands-on VC, taking a seed-funding approach to getting companies off the launch pad.
Each trip to Israel would always include a visit hang out with Jon and once in a while lunch with his Dad.
Even in downturns or market meltdowns, I would get on a plane, encourage Israeli technology entrepreneurs to get the word out about their companies and nudge them along because I always thought that a great message combined with a bit of great media coverage or a nod from the right analyst would help them raise a bit of money, find a joint venture partner, or help them in an exit.
Any time I visited with Jon, I would beg him to come to the center of the technology universe ..... San Antonio, which I live.
Way back when I started to travel to and from Israel, I had to explain to prospective clients that here in San Antonio, we had an airport with a runway, and that FedEx delivered packages just like they do in New York, Boston, or San Jose.
Oh- and dial-up?
My 28.8 line ran just as fast as the ones in those high priced offices on 5th Ave, Route 128 or Highway 101. And then when broadband came, well... our worlds really went like, totally flat!
Fast-forward to the present; better than being on the cover of "Rolling Stone."
Jon's now the CEO of Vringo (think ring tones for your cell phone, but with video - hence the name, Vringo) and a major rock star in Israel and in the U.S.
And fast forward even a bit forward to the celebration of Israel's 60th Anniversary. The New York Times recognizes Jon as one of 10 Israelis who've impacted the U.S. The piece is not online, but can be downloaded here:Download medved_ny_times.pdf
Jon's in great company, with the likes of Golda Meir, Natalie Portman, Matthew Bronfman and others.
Or rather, these luminaries are in the company of Jon.
Sure, I've seen Ms. Portman in the movies, enjoyed some type of Seagram's bottle that Mr. Bronfman's family produces, and even washed dishes with Golda Meir's grandaughter, when I was 16 and working one summer on a kibbutz.
What's great about having someone like Jon being recognized by The Times in this vein is that he represents the continued and future vibrancy of Israel's collective brain capacity that continues to create great companies and new business opportunities.
Congratulations to you, Jon and your family. And to all Shana Tova!
P.S. As for coming to San Antonio?