Israeli startups meet with top broadcasting companies


Nine Israeli startups last month were given an opportunity few small companies are ever afforded — the chance to ply their wares to some of the top companies in Los Angeles.  

Invited to participate in the Israeli New Media Delegation, executives from the Israeli businesses each met with representatives from at least one of the following broadcast and entertainment-related companies: Warner Bros., Fox, Paramount, DirecTV, Technicolor, Disney/ABC Television Group, Starz, Edelman and Creative Artists Agency.

Organized by the Government of Israel Economic Mission and the Israel Export Institute, the June 18-20 trip was one of the many missions Israel’s Ministry of the Economy organizes every year to the United States, India, China and Europe. 

“We do this on an almost weekly basis,” said Gili Ovadia, Israeli consul for economic affairs for the West Coast. He said the next few missions will feature Israeli companies engaged in pharmaceutical, gaming and mobile automotive industries. 

The Israeli delegation — representing technologies involving social media management, viewer engagement and personalization tools, and more — featured Beyond Verbal, Comigo, Dex, eTribez, eyeSight, Homage, Kaltura, TinyTap and Vodience.

In this case, the tour reflected the Israeli government’s determination to connect Israeli companies with American companies on the West Coast. The mission provided “great exposure to the decision-makers at the top U.S. firms,” Ovadia said. Without these personal invitations, “It would likely take a few years” for the Israelis to make such contacts. … Basically the missions shorten their time to market by showing their technology to potential partners.” 

Jason Ciment, an executive board member of the Southern California Israel Chamber of Commerce, which joined in putting together a reception to welcome the delegation, agreed the mission was invaluable to the Israelis.

“What they definitely needed was exposure to the American business people to help improve their pitches and meet potential investors,” he said. 

The American companies selected the Israeli ones they wanted to meet with out of a pool of 30 compiled by the Israel Export Institute. Although some of the U.S. companies chose up to 15 Israeli ones, not all of them were able to participate because of timing or other factors. 

“We showed the Hollywood companies the list back in March and asked them to choose the companies they felt were most relevant to their needs,” Ovadia explained. “Then we gave the Israeli companies the opportunity to come on the mission.” 

Dan Emodi, vice president of marketing at Beyond Verbal, a company that has developed ways to analyze people’s emotions — moods, attitudes and personality — by examining their vocal intonations, said he met with DirecTV, Fox and Disney execs during the mission. 

“They expressed interest in our technology to better understand audiences’ reaction to pilots, movies [and] shows before and while they’re being aired.”

Emodi said manufacturers of machines that respond to verbal commands, such as certain toys, could also potentially benefit from Beyond Verbal’s technology. 

“We are thrilled and grateful that the American executives gave us their time and attention.”

Rony Greenberg, vice president for business development at eyeSight, said he met with execs from DirecTV, Technicolor, Fox and others. 

The company, which develops gesture-recognition technology for digital devices, believes the execs were intrigued by the potential to control TVs, tablets, computers and other devices with the flick of a finger or hand. 

“For example, if you want to mute the volume, you bring your finger to your lips. If you’re cooking with a recipe on your tablet and your hands aren’t clean, imagine flipping the page by waving your hand.” 

As for the other Israeli companies that made the trip, some have obvious implications for television: Dex allows two-way interaction between a live TV show and viewers, and Vodience creates a live virtual audience, allowing those watching a program to interact with each other.

Comigo offers a platform that allows TV viewing across all types of handheld devices, with social interactive features and applications overlaid on the broadcast stream. ETribez offers digital audience engagement and TV production management solutions and services to the entertainment industry, and Kaltura is a video platform that provides media companies with video management, publishing and monetization tools. 

Then there’s Homage, a mobile video app that places users into a variety of stories, allowing them to, for instance, appear in a famous movie scene. TinyTap allows anyone to create, share and play personalized educational games. 

David Schlacht, senior director of multimedia at DirecTV, helped facilitate the inclusion of the Israelis in a mini startup fair that was part of a larger innovation open house. The startups were able to pitch their products and technology to more than 1,000 senior DirecTV employees. 

“The companies we chose were in fields most related to DirecTV that were new to us,” Schlacht explained. “Some were content-related, others more technology that was interesting to media companies.”

That turned out to be “a great opportunity to educate a wide, diverse senior team in the latest cutting-edge technology being developed by some of today’s leading companies, who in this case happened to be from Israel,” he said.

Schlacht said the encounters were beneficial to both the U.S. and Israeli companies. 

“I think that many of the small and medium companies are not well versed in creating long-term relationships with big companies, and that is key to landing deals or investments. For us it was a great opportunity to educate a wide diverse senior team in the latest cutting-edge technology being developed by some of today’s leading companies who in this case happened to be from Israel.”

Schlacht said the Israeli marketing professionals were clearly “experienced” in presenting their companies, but he was “not sure how familiar some of them were with our specific needs and focus.” He thought some of them could have done an even better job demonstrating their technology in the context of the U.S. market.  

In a small survey completed by the DirecTV employees, the Israeli pavilion ranked among the top three from a large number of demos. 

“I think this is a clear indication that the companies were well-received by a broad audience,” Schlacht said, “and now the companies have at least a foot or pinky in the door to follow up and develop a relationship or test their technologies.” 

Now Hear This!


The radio station plays hits by Jennifer Lopez and Madonna,
and invites listeners to comment on issues such as what they’d do if they
discovered a friend was taking drugs.

It’s the type of fare broadcast to young adults from Malibu
to Miami. Except the disc jockey is speaking Arabic, and the listeners are in
the Middle East.

Welcome to Radio Sawa, the brainchild of Norman J. Pattiz,
founder and chairman of the biggest radio network in the United States. Since
March of last year, Radio Sawa (which means together in Arabic) has been
broadcasting in Arabic around the clock in the Middle East, targeting listeners
under 30 years old, who make up 60 percent of the region’s population.

Radio Sawa broadcasts a mix of Western and Arabic pop music,
interspersed with news updates and analysis, interviews and opinion pieces.
Potentially, millions of listeners can access Radio Sawa via AM, FM and
shortwave frequencies, as well as on the Internet (www.radiosawa.com) and on
digital radio satellite channels.

Pattiz, the founder of Westwood One, helped conceptualize
and launch Radio Sawa as a member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG).
The BBG oversees the government’s nonmilitary international broadcasting
services, such as the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

While serving on a committee charged with reviewing the 61
different languages in which programs are broadcast, “it became obvious that
what we were doing in the Middle East was insignificant at best,” said the
59-year-old Southern California native. Once Pattiz pointed out the deficiency,
he soon found himself chairman of the BBG’s Middle East Committee.

Returning from a fact-finding mission to the region, he told
the U.S. House Committee on International Relations, “We have a vital mission
to counter misinformation and messages of hate regarding the United States by
broadcasting truthful news and information and by faithfully representing our
country’s government and culture.”

 Polling of young adults in Amman, Jordan, last October
appears to indicate that the audience is listening. Forty-three percent of
respondents tuned in to Radio Sawa, more than any other station, and 25 percent
considered it their top source for news. Both figures were higher than those
received for any other station.

“I don’t know that we ever expected to get to these kinds of
numbers, but we certainly never expected to get to them that quickly,” said
Pattiz, noting that the percentages have increased since the October poll.

Pattiz acknowledged that Radio Sawa’s impact is “less
strong” with lower socio-economic groups than with “the more educated and more
affluent and those who have more of a connection with Western values. But we
have to start someplace,” he said.

Pattiz said that by presenting news objectively, Radio Sawa
more accurately represents the United States and its culture than other
available sources. For example, he noted that Al Jazeera, the Arab satellite TV
station in Qatar, recently aired a two-hour interview of former Ku Klux Klan
leader David Duke.

“This is who they chose to interview as a representative of
the people of the United States of America — David Duke. If that isn’t bone
chilling,” Pattiz said.

Like news regarding the United States, coverage of other
areas, including Israel, is intended to be presented without bias. Radio Sawa’s
news director is Mouafac Harb, a former Washington bureau chief for the
international Arabic daily newspaper, Al Hayat.

According to its Web site, one of Radio Sawa’s guiding
principles is that “the long-range interests of the United States are served by
communicating directly in Arabic with the peoples of the Middle East by radio.”
Pattiz echoes this sentiment.

“We’re certainly better off communicating with a major part
of the world where our efforts have been woefully inadequate,” he said. “If
they’re going to hate us, let them know who they’re hating, rather than just
blindly following a path that’s laid out by their government-controlled media.”

The BBG plans to expand on Sawa’s success on a number of
fronts. Soon, specific regions will receive their own individual programming
streams, with news and features of local interest delivered in regional
dialects.

A new Farsi-language service, similar to Sawa, started up
last month in Iran. Plans are also underway for an Arabic-language satellite
television station to provide round-the-clock programming.

Pattiz is no stranger to Middle Eastern politics. As a
member of the Israel Policy Forum, an organization that promotes U.S. awareness
and involvement in the Middle East peace process, Pattiz has traveled to the
region to meet with Israeli and Jordanian leaders and has held a reception at
his home for Queen Noor of Jordan.

He also hosts monthly roundtable discussions at which
prominent community members meet with Israeli leaders, media representatives
and others with insights about the region.

Although his Radio Sawa efforts are performed on behalf of
the U.S. government, Pattiz acknowledged that promoting the free flow of
information in the Middle East benefits Israel, as well.

On the state level, Pattiz serves on the UC Board of
Regents. As a member of the board’s Investment Committee, he helps oversee
billions of dollars of university investments.

He expects to be part of a task force formed in response to
a controversial course description published for a UC Berkeley class, The
Politics and Poetics of Palestinian Resistance. Pattiz said the task force will
“examine how this course description was allowed to be printed in the first
place, and look at the larger questions of academic freedom vs.
responsibility.”

He also serves on the California Commission on Building for
the 21st Century, which looks at how the state should address future building
and infrastructure needs. Pattiz has served as president of the Broadcast
Education Association, trustee of the Museum of Television and Radio, is on the
the USC Annenberg School for Communication board and on the advisory board of
the RAND Center for Middle East Public Policy.

At Westwood One, which he founded in 1974 as a one-room
operation, Pattiz spends much of his time conceptualizing projects and
arranging agreements with artists and recording companies to generate
entertainment programs for broadcast. The company has earned a reputation for
blockbuster entertainment programming, airing concerts by such megastars as
Barbra Streisand, The Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen.

His professional, political and philanthropic activities
keep Pattiz busy, and he said he likes it that way.

“I’ve got plenty of things to keep me busy,” he said. “But
they’re all things I find incredibly interesting and enjoyable. I’m not
complaining about any of it.”

Norman J. Pattiz will be the keynote speaker at CommUNITY
Kavod on Tuesday, Jan. 28, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Irvine. For
more information call (714) 755-5555.  

Tuning In


As founder and chair of Westwood One, the biggest

radio network in the country, Norman J. Pattiz has an impact on what’s carried over the airwaves in the United States and beyond. Now that he is a member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, he has an even greater voice in international broadcasting.

The Broadcasting Board of Governors oversees the government’s nonmilitary international broadcasting services, including Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Radio Free Asia. Pattiz was appointed to the nine-member board by President Clinton last year. While serving on a committee reviewing the collection of 61 different languages in which programs are broadcast, Pattiz said, “it became obvious that what we were doing in the Middle East was insignificant at best. U.S. broadcasts make little if any impact.”

In other parts of the world people have sought out U.S. broadcasts as a source of unbiased information, Pattiz told The Journal.

“I’ve come to realize the roles these stations have played in places like Kosovo and Bosnia. They were the most listened-to broadcast services in the region during tense times, especially right around the downfall of Milosevic,” he said. “During periods of crisis, people turn them on to find out what’s going on.”

Yet in the Middle East, he estimates that U.S. broadcasts achieve less than 1 percent penetration in the region.

After Pattiz pointed out this deficiency to the Broadcasting Board, he soon found himself chair of its Middle East Committee. He recently embarked on a fact-finding mission that involved meetings with government officials, ministers of information, broadcasters, academics and others in Israel, Jordan, Egypt, the Palestinian Territories and Qatar.

“There’s a media war within the region,” Pattiz said, and it entails disinformation, hate radio and incitement to violence.

As a result of the committee’s work, Voice of America now has an opportunity to make a major impact through a 24-hour broadcasting network. “Broadcasts will originate from the region and truly engage Arab listeners,” Pattiz said, noting that the network will “uniquely present America and its policies with the immediacy and relevance of a local broadcaster.”

Broadcasting accurate, timely and relevant news and information about the region and the United States will advance U.S. strategic interests and benefit all parties in the region, Pattiz says.

Pattiz is no stranger to Middle Eastern politics. He has been an active force in the Israel Policy Forum (IPF), an organization which promotes U.S. awareness and involvement in the Middle East peace process. Becoming involved shortly after the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, Pattiz soon traveled to the Middle East to meet with key Israeli politicians and King Abdullah II of Jordan. He hosts IPF monthly roundtable discussions where prominent community members meet with Israeli leaders, media representatives or other individuals with unique insight about the Middle East.

In 1999, Pattiz was honored by IPF at a tribute dinner where former Prime Minister Ehud Barak presented the award and called Pattiz “an ever-increasingly important conduit of information and good will.” Last spring, Pattiz and his wife hosted a private reception at their home for Queen Noor of Jordan to raise funds for the King Hussein Foundation, which promotes democracy and peace in the Middle East.

Regarding the acceleration of turmoil in the region, Pattiz said, “It’s tragic. [Peace] seemed so close.”

But he’s not ready to give up on the idea.

“Peace is an absolute necessity in the region for all parties…. Nothing has changed about the basics of why the peace has to happen and will eventually happen,” Pattiz said. “What has changed is the realization that while we’ve been preparing ourselves for peace, the Palestinian side has not really worked with its population to get them ready for a real, lasting, achievable peace process.”

Here at home, Pattiz also serves at the state level. He was appointed by Gov. Gray Davis to the California Commission on Building for the 21st Century, which looks at how the state should address building and infrastructure needs such as transportation, natural resources and technology in order to best meet the demands of the future.

“Norm is not just a successful entrepreneur … he’s a committed civic leader,” Davis said. “He’s got great energy and ideas, which he brings to all of his endeavors.”

Pattiz lends his support to the Democratic Party locally and nationally. He attended the Democratic National Convention and hosted a reception for Davis and approximately 200 members of the national press who were covering the convention. Earlier this month, he joined Democratic senators visiting California as part of a national fundraising effort. And last week, he attended a small private dinner for Clinton at the home of supermarket magnate Ron Burkle. A Southern California native, Pattiz, 58, credits his community involvement to his Jewish upbringing.

“My mother’s parents were Orthodox Jews … I have very fond and intense memories of my grandparents. Every Jewish holiday was a day where we would spend time in shul and then spend time at my grandmother’s house, where the family would gather and have a meal together.

“I consider myself a moral person, a caring person, a fair person,” Pattiz added. “And I think all of those things come from my background as a Jew.”

This outlook fuels his philosophy on political activism. “If you’ve been fortunate enough to be successful, [political activism] is almost a requirement,” he said. “I think it’s important if you’re caring and have a point of view, you do what you can to support people and politicians and causes and countries that share those views.”

Pattiz remains loyal to his alma mater, Hamilton High School, and recruited record and music companies to help Hamilton become a magnet school for music and the performing arts. He personally donated funds to transform the school’s auditorium into a marble-and-glass-bedecked theater, which was officially designated the Norman J. Pattiz Concert Hall. Last summer, he spearheaded a gala that raised more than $400,000 for Hamilton’s Academy of Music.

Pattiz has served as president of the

Broadcast Education Association (BEA), where

he sought to connect academia with the broadcast industry to foster student interest in broadcasting careers. He serves as trustee for

the Museum of Television & Radio and the Hollywood Radio and Television Society, as

well as on several university communications boards. He was a force behind last October’s

Los Angeles Radio Festival, a first-time

weeklong event of seminars, broadcasts and special events for the radio community and

the public, which is slated to become an

annual event.

Pattiz approaches his personal life with the same vigor he lavishes on his professional and political activities. He met his wife, Mary Turner, through the radio business. Turner was a disc jockey at local rock station KMET, and Pattiz was looking for someone to host the rock interview show “Off the Record.” Because Turner “knew every major artist in town,” Pattiz said, she was a natural choice.

“I’ve been in the business a long time, so I know sometimes the voice and the image don’t match,” he said about Turner. “When I finally found a woman on the radio who looked as good as she sounded, I married her.” They have been together for 21 years.

At Westwood One, the radio network he founded in 1974 as a one-room operation, Pattiz spends much of his time conceptualizing projects and making deals with artists and recording companies to generate entertainment programs for broadcast. The company has earned a reputation for blockbuster entertainment programming, airing concerts by such megastars as Barbra Streisand, The Rolling Stones, Garth Brooks and Paul McCartney. Last week, it aired Bruce Springsteen’s HBO concert.

Pattiz seems to thrive on the variety of endeavors that has him speaking on the phone to Barbra Streisand and U.S. Senator Evan Bayh on the same day, and a few days later, attending a seder for about 100 people hosted by Maverick Records’ Guy Oseary.

“I’m a very lucky guy,” Pattiz said.