A haunting image from the Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville, where they marched chanting slogans such as "Jews will not replace us", and "Blood and Soil" a Nazi refrain.

Standing up to Nazis and The Wake-Up Call of Antisemitism


Nazis threatened a synagogue in Charlottesville…while the people were there praying.

The day after this photo was taken, Jews gathered for Shabbat services. They did not stand down, but came out in large numbers and were joined by non-Jews for support. The entire harrowing account of those who went to pray that scary Shabbat morning in Charlottesville is linked below. (Did you know, for example, the police refused to help protect the synagogue, though they knew hundreds or thousands on white supremacists were converging on the town?)

The synagogue president told Newsweek:

“For half an hour, three men dressed in fatigues and armed with semi-automatic rifles stood across the street from the temple,” he wrote. “Had they tried to enter, I don’t know what I could have done to stop them, but I couldn’t take my eyes off them, either.”

Not only did armed protesters stand across from the synagogue, but neo-Nazis paraded past the building, shouting anti-Semitic slogans, a horrible reminder of Nazi Germany’s persecution and mass slaughter of European Jews.

“Several times, parades of Nazis passed our building, shouting, ‘There’s the synagogue!’ followed by chants of ‘Sieg Heil’ and other anti-Semitic language. Some carried flags with swastikas and other Nazi symbols,” Zimmerman wrote.

I’ll post a link below of the whole story.

We live in remarkable times.

We live in remarkable times, because even while we spent many years studying the Holocaust and living, working and helping the Jewish communities of Poland and Eastern Europe — never did we see such a brazen display of hatred as was seen in America this past weekend. Never.

We live in remarkable times, because instead of fanning the flames of hate, leaders across America – Republican, Democrat, liberal, conservative, celebrities, TV anchors and religious groups denounced and condemned the rally and the open display of hatred and antisemitism.

We live in remarkable times, because many politicians and wide array of groups like the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Republican & Democratic Jewish Coalitions, the ADL and others had to criticize the President for his response to a white supremacists’ rally and violence.

We live in remarkable times because days later, tens of thousands more people gathered at the same spot as the hate-rally, to preach tolerance.

We live in remarkable times because while acts of antisemitism are on the rise nationwide, powerful companies like Google, Apple, GoDaddy, and are taking a stand, donating money for anti-hate education and refusing to host websites for Nazis.

We live in remarkable times because it is now totally unacceptable to be an elected official in America and show support for the Klan or white supremacy groups.

We live in remarkable times.

Historically, when there is a rise in antisemitism, we have also looked inward and asked ourselves, how can we be doing better as a Jewish people? 

How can we care for one another more?

How can we up-our-game in our service of God?

And the answer is that if we are honest with ourselves and our community is that we can be doing better. 

Antisemitism is a wake-up call

Antisemitism is a wake-up call that we are still in exile.

Antisemitism is a wake-up call that we can do more to live up to our mission.

Antisemitism is a wake-up call that we must pray to God for protection, sustenance, and blessing every single day.

Antisemitism is a wake-up call that we must increase our Tefillah- connecting with God, Teshuva – returning to our better selves, and Tzedakah – helping people in need and Jewish institutions in need.

We live in remarkable times. 

May God bless and preserve the United States, a country that has done for Jews than any other in History.

I hope you will join me in extra prayers for our COUNTRY and PEACE and SAFETY this Shabbat.

You can read the entire account of the synagogue in Charlottesville here

Maya Avraham. Photo courtesy of YouTube.

Calendar: March 3-9, 2017


SAT | MARCH 4

UNPLUG L.A.

Join Reboot and Open Temple for an “Unplugged Party” in celebration of Reboot’s National Day of Unplugging. Your phone will be checked at the door. Step off the grid to listen to live music, play board games, visit the analog photo booth, and more. Event dedicated to the late Levi Felix, founder of Digital Detox and Camp Grounded; $3 of each ticket will be donated to Camp Grounded in his memory. 21 and older. 7 p.m. $18; tickets available at eventbrite.com. Electric Lodge, 1416 Electric Ave., Venice. nationaldayofunplugging.com.

A TOAST TO HEROES

Honor a group of 10 young Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers visiting Los Angeles who have been wounded in combat. Food, drinks and an open-bar after-party with a DJ spinning until midnight. All proceeds go to Lev Chayal’s program for wounded IDF soldiers. Black-tie attire. 8 p.m. VIP reception; 9 p.m. cocktails and buffet. $180 for individual reservations; $100 for young professionals ages 21 to 35. Tickets available at eventbrite.com. Venue TBA. levchayal.com.

SUN | MARCH 5

ALONG THE GOLDENEH LINE: JEWISH LIFE AND HERITAGE OF NORTHEAST L.A. AND THE SAN GABRIEL VALLEY

A chartered bus will take riders alongside the Metro Gold Line into the San Gabriel Valley on a tour that will focus on the area’s unique Jewish heritage and its contemporary community life. Wear comfortable walking shoes — the tour includes two miles on foot. Instructors include Stephen Sass, president of the Jewish Historical Society of Southern California since 1989, and Jeremy Sunderland, who is on the board of directors for the Jewish Historical Society of Southern California. Space is limited. Lunch on your own. 9 a.m. $58. American Jewish University, 15600 Mulholland Drive, Los Angeles. (310) 476-9777. wcce.aju.edu.

NEFESH B’NEFESH ISRAEL ALIYAH FAIR

The ninth annual Nefesh B’Nefesh Israel Aliyah Fair offers the opportunity to gather aliyah information under one roof. Professionals will discuss financial planning and budgeting, choosing a community, building a strategic job search plan, navigating the health care system, buying or renting a home in Israel, and more. 10 a.m. for retirees and empty nesters; noon for students and young professionals. Free. Shalhevet High School, 910 S. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles. nbn.org.

“HIGH NOON: THE HOLLYWOOD BLACKLIST AND THE MAKING OF AN AMERICAN CLASSIC”

cal-hign-noon“High Noon” is more than a Western; it is also a story about the Hollywood blacklist. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Frankel will discuss his book about  screenwriter Carl Foreman, producer Stanley Kramer, director Fred Zinnemann and actor Gary Cooper, and how their creative partnership was influenced — and crushed — by political repression and agendas. Book signing to follow presentation. 2 p.m. $14; $10 for students and seniors; $6 for children; free for members. Autry Museum of the American West, 4700 Western Heritage Way, Los Angeles.

THE LOS ANGELES BALALAIKA ORCHESTRA

The Los Angeles Balalaika Orchestra presents its 22nd annual concert, featuring the voice of Mark Goldenberg, cantor at Young Israel of Century City. 3 p.m. $35-$45. Herbert Zipper Hall, 200 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles. (626) 483-2731. balalaikala.com.

“VISIONS FOR A SHARED SOCIETY: THE ‘TRIBES’ OF ISRAEL”

Elana Stein Hain, director of leadership education at the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America, will discuss the core values of some of the “tribes” that compose Israel today, and how a divided people build a shared society. Part of the Synagogue Collaborative Lecture Series. 4 p.m. $20. (Post-lecture dinner and discussion extra; RSVP only.) Temple Beth Am, 1039 S. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles. shalomhartman.org/LAcollaborative.

“LABSCAPES: VIEWS THROUGH THE MICROSCOPE”

“Labscapes” presents vivid images from the mysterious and usually unseen wonders that exist under the powerful lenses of the microscopes of some of the world’s most renowned researchers at Technion — Israel Institute of Technology. A special presentation by students will be followed by the grand opening. RSVP requested: jose@ats.org or (310) 254-9899. 5 p.m. presentation; 6 p.m. reception and exhibit. Through March 27. Museum of Tolerance, 9786 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles. ats.org/labscapes.

MAYA AVRAHAM

Before joining The Idan Raichel Project, Maya Avraham was a widely sought-after backup singer for Israeli superstars such as Eyal Golan, Sarit Hadad and Shlomi Shabat. She will sing some of The Idan Raichel Project’s greatest hits as well as her own songs. 7 p.m. Tickets start at $35. Gindi Auditorium at American Jewish University, 15600 Mulholland Drive, Los Angeles. (310) 476-9777. wcce.aju.edu.

“FROM SHTETL TO STARDOM: JEWS AND HOLLYWOOD”

This panel discussion features Vince Brook of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television; David Isaacs, TV scriptwriter, producer and Emmy winner; Shaina Hammerman, Jewish film, literature, religion and cultural historian; Josh Moss, visiting assistant professor of film and media studies at UC Santa Barbara; and Ross Melnick, associate professor of film and media studies at UCSB. 6:15 p.m. dessert reception; 7 p.m. panel. Free. RSVP by March 3 at wbtla.org/shtetl or (424) 208-8932. Wilshire Boulevard Temple, Irmas Campus, 11661 W. Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles. (213) 388-2401.

TUES | MARCH 7

GOOGLE FOR GENEALOGISTS

Learn how to use Google Earth and Google Maps to gather information about where your ancestors lived, and how to educate yourself and meet other like-minded individuals (and perhaps relatives) using Google’s social media. Mary Kathryn Kozy, who has been researching her family history for more than 35 years, will speak at this meeting of the Jewish Genealogy Society of the Conejo Valley and Ventura County. 7 p.m. Free. Temple Adat Elohim, 2420 E. Hillcrest, Thousand Oaks. (818) 889-6616. jgscv.org.

THURS | MARCH 9

ELON GOLD

cal-elon-goldComedian, writer and actor Elon Gold kicks off the Purim weekend with a night of comedy, drinks and a DJ. Also featuring Alex Edelman. 8 p.m. $40. Saban Theatre, 8440 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills. (888) 645-5006. sabanconcerts.com.

“THE AUSCHWITZ VOLUNTEER”

Explore the ethical and religious implications of the Holocaust at this event. Wine and cheese reception will be followed by a multimedia program and discussion about the Polish underground’s mission that sent officer Witold Polecki into Auschwitz to gain intelligence and build resistance among the prisoners. 7:30 p.m. $8. Burton Sperber Jewish Community Library at American Jewish University, 15600 Mulholland Drive, Los Angeles. (310) 440-1572. wcce.aju.edu.

Alphabet profit sends shares up; overtakes Apple in value


Alphabet Inc reported better-than-expected quarterly profit on Monday, sending shares of Google's parent soaring in after-hours trading and making it the most valuable U.S. company ahead of rival Apple Inc.

It was the first quarter the company provided information on what it calls 'Other Bets' such as self-driving cars, and the solid results eased investor concerns about the company's spending on ambitious projects. 

“As long as the core business continues to operate well with accelerated revenue… investment in those businesses can continue,” said Ronald Josey of JMP Securities.

Alphabet said consolidated revenue jumped 17.8 percent to $21.33 billion in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, from $18.10 billion a year earlier. Analysts had expected $20.77 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Adjusted earnings of $8.67 per share handily beat analysts' average estimate of $8.10 per share.

Total operating losses on the Other Bets – which include glucose-monitoring contact lenses and Internet balloons – increased to $3.57 billion in the 12 months ended Dec. 31, and $1.2 billion in the fourth quarter.

In a call with analysts, Chief Financial Officer Ruth Porat attributed the strong earnings to “increased use of mobile search by consumers,” as well as “ongoing momentum” in YouTube and programmatic advertising. 

Google's shares were up almost 6 percent at $795.68 in after-hours trading, after breaking through the $800 level. Alphabet's combined share classes were worth $555 billion, compared with Apple, which had a value of about $534 billion. 

Alphabet will officially overtake Apple in market value if both companies' shares open around current levels on Tuesday. 

Google's advertising revenue increased nearly 17 percent to $19.08 billion, while the number of ads, or paid clicks, rose 31 percent, the company said. Analysts had expected paid clicks to increase 21.8 percent.

Advertisers pay Google only if someone clicks on their ad.

Net income in the fourth quarter rose to $4.92 billion, or $7.06 per Class A and B share and Class C capital stock, from $4.68 billion, or $6.79 per share.

Adjusted earnings of $8.67 per share excluded certain one-time items.

Google denies deal to jointly monitor YouTube videos with Israel


Google has denied an Israeli government claim that it has agreed to jointly monitor YouTube videos that incite attacks on Israelis.

Google, which owns YouTube, on Monday denied that it had made such an agreement at a meeting last week of the company’s executives with Israel’s deputy foreign minister, Tzipi Hotovely.

A statement about the meeting released by the ministry last week, which remains on its website, quoted Hotovely as saying, “We are engaged daily in confronting incitement to violence, a task which can benefit greatly from the cooperation of those companies that are involved in social media.”

The announcement of an agreement to jointly monitor inciting videos was removed from the statement, an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman told the French news agency AFP.

Hotovely, who met with Google’s senior counsel for public policy, Juniper Downs, and YouTube chief executive Susan Wojcicki, was briefed on the companies’ system for identifying video clips that incite to violence, according to the statement.

A Google spokesman told AFP that the meeting was just “one of many that we have with policymakers from different countries to explain our policies on controversial content, flagging and removals.”

Radiohead singer Thom Yorke compares YouTube and Google to the Nazis


The singer of the English alternative band Radiohead said that YouTube and its parent company, Google, have “seized control” of art like the Nazis did during World War II.

“People continue to say that this is an era where music is free, cinema is free,” Thom Yorke said in an interview with the Italian newspaper La Repubblica on Saturday. “It’s not true. The creators of services make money – Google, YouTube. A huge amount of money, by trawling, like in the sea – they take everything there is.

“They’ve seized control of it – it’s like what the Nazis did during the Second World War,” he continued, according to the Guardian.

“Actually, it’s like what everyone was doing during the war, even the English – stealing the art of other countries. What difference is there?”

Yorke, 47, is an outspoken critic of music streaming services like Spotify, which he has called the “last desperate fart of a dying corpse” and claims does not fairly compensate new musicians.

“The funny thing is that YouTube has said ‘that’s not fair’ [to use an AdBlocker],” Yorke continued in the interview. “They say it’s not fair – the people who put adverts in front of any piece of content, making a load of money, while artists don’t get paid or are paid laughable amounts – and that seems fine to them. But if [YouTube] don’t get a profit out of it, it’s not fair.”

Radiohead is a Grammy-winning band that formed in England in 1985 and has sold over 30 million albums worldwide.

Israel says Facebook, YouTube videos encouraging Palestinian attacks


Israel said on Thursday it had asked Facebook and YouTube to remove videos it says have been encouraging Palestinian violence against Israelis in the past week.

Four Israelis have been killed in Jerusalem and the West Bank in the past week, and two Palestinians have been shot dead and scores injured in clashes with security services. Three suspected Palestinian assailants have been killed by police.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon, providing an excerpt from a letter sent to Google Israel, whose parent company owns YouTube, said contact had also been made with Facebook.

“The videos depict recent terror attacks, praise the assailants and present Jews and Israelis in a hateful and racist manner, and since their publishing, three more attacks have taken place so far,” the letter said.

Spokespeople for Facebook and Google Inc said they could not comment on specific videos or contacts with governments.

“YouTube has clear policies that prohibit content like gratuitous violence, hate speech and incitement to commit violent acts, and we remove videos violating these policies when flagged by our users,” said Google spokesman Paul Solomon.

The letter to Google included two YouTube video links, one of which has already been removed.

In one clip, archived on an Israeli news site, a song in Arabic-accented Hebrew calls for the killing of “Zionists” while another is an animation of the drive-by shooting of an Israeli couple killed in the West Bank a week ago.

Asked about the Israeli appeal, a Facebook spokeswoman said: “We want people to feel safe when using Facebook. There is no place for content encouraging violence, direct threats, terrorism or hate speech on Facebook.”

The spokeswoman declined to comment on whether Facebook had received complaints about anti-Arab postings.

But she said Facebook, as a rule, urged people “to use our reporting tools if they find content that they believe violates our standards so we can investigate and take swift action.”

Social media sites often flare-up when Israeli-Palestinian violence rises, such as the 2014 Israel-Gaza war, with fiery debates between users and sometimes even officials or fighters on either side, spreading across digital platforms.

A comment posted this week on the Facebook page of a prominent far-right Israeli settler activist called for people to use clubs to beat Arabs in Jerusalem's Old City, where two Israelis were stabbed to death.

Israeli team signs first launch deal in Google moon race


An Israeli team competing in a race to the moon sponsored by Google has signed a with California-based SpaceX for a rocket launch, putting it at the front of the pack and on target for blast-off in late 2017, officials said on Wednesday.

With the deadline to win a $20 million first-place prize just two years off, pressure is mounting on the 16 rivals from around the world hoping to complete a privately funded moon landing.

Silicon Valley's Moon Express announced a week ago that it had signed a contract with Lockheed Martin-backed Rocket Lab. But Israel's SpaceIL is the first team to have a launch agreement reviewed, verified and accepted by XPRIZE, the group overseeing the contest.

“The magnitude of this achievement cannot be overstated,” said XPRIZE President Bob Weiss. “This is the official milestone that the race is on … They've lit the fuse, as it were, for their competitive effort.”

The key hurdle was finding an affordable ride to outer space without government funding, said Eran Privman, CEO of SpaceIL.

Because his team's spacecraft is much smaller than most competitors – it looks like a robotic, four-legged table, about 1.5 meters tall and wide – the SpaceX Falcon 9 launcher can carry 20 small satellites whose fares will help cover costs, Privman said.

“Other teams are trying to find such solutions,” he said.

SpaceX is a private company owned and operated by technology entrepreneur Elon Musk.

Much work remains. SpaceIL must manufacture hardware to fit the rocket and only then can it be shipped to the United States, Privman said.

The mission is scheduled for late 2017, just before the contest deadline. Once exiting the rocket in space, the Israeli craft will make its journey to the moon.

To win, a privately funded team must place an unmanned spacecraft on the moon's surface that can explore 500 meters and transmit high-definition video and images back to earth.

Google unveils latest Nexus phones, tablet


Google Inc unveiled its new Nexus phones on Tuesday in its latest attempt to take a bite out of Apple's dominant share of the smartphone market.

The launch of the phones, the Nexus 6P and the Nexus 5X, comes a day after Apple Inc reported record first-weekend sales of its new iPhones.

The Nexus 5X 16 GB model will be priced at $379, while the Nexus 6P 32 GB will cost $499, Google said at an event live-streamed on YouTube.

Apple's 6s and 6s Plus start at $199 and $299, respectively, with a two-year service-provider contract.

Nexus devices, which typically do not sell as much as iPhones or iPads, are a way for the tech giant to showcase its latest advancements in mobile hardware and software.

Google also unveiled a tablet built entirely by the company based on its Android operating system.

The latest version of Android, dubbed Marshmallow, will be available to existing Nexus customers from next week.

The Android mobile platform is a key element in Google's strategy to maintain revenue from online advertising as people switch from Web browser searches to smartphone apps.

The Nexus 5X is made by South Korea's LG Electronics Inc and the Nexus 6P by China's Huawei Technologies Co Ltd. Both phones feature Google's new fingerprint sensor, Nexus Imprint, which is located on the back.

The fingerprint sensors will help quickly authorize purchases made through Android Pay, the one-touch payment app on Android devices that competes with Apple Pay.

The phones are available for pre-order on the Google Store from a number of countries including the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Japan.

The Pixel C tablet will cost $499 for the 32 GB model and can be bought with a detachable keyboard, which will cost $149.

The tablet will be available in time for the holiday season on the Google Store.

The Pixel tablet puts Google in the sights of its biggest competitors, Apple's iPad Pro and Microsoft Corp's Surface tablets, which also have optional keyboards.

Google also unveiled a redesigned version of its Chromecast device for streaming Web content to TVs and introduced Chromecast Audio, which plugs into speakers to stream audio over Wi-Fi. Chromecast Audio, priced at $35, works with apps including Spotify, Pandora and Google Play Music. Chromecast competes with the Apple TV set-top box.

Ask Google: Who runs Hollywood? Answer: The Jews


Google says it is fixing a bug wherein users who type “Who runs Hollywood?” end up with the following search result: “the Jews.”

Google search results are the product of complicated algorithms that sometimes return unwanted or offensive results. Many consider the notion that the Jews run Hollywood to be offensive.

A Google spokesman told the U.K. Daily Mail, “This has been flagged to us, we are working to get it removed as quickly as possible.”

After news of the issue made headlines, the top Google search result for “Who runs Hollywood” became an article for Re/code titled “Please Don’t Ask Google ‘Who Runs Hollywood.”

For Hasidic Jew who consults for Google, no college degree required


When Issamar Ginzberg enters his Jerusalem office on a sweltering summer day, he’s wearing a long black coat tied at the waist and a black hat. His long, scraggly beard and sidecurls, or payos, offer no relief from the heat.

The office — thank God — is air conditioned, and Ginzberg offers kosher candy from a bowl on his desk. Nearby sit his laptop and LG phone, complete with a “kosher” filter that restricts it from many websites. While some haredi Orthodox men do without any smartphone, Ginzberg has two. He also keeps a Blackberry handy for U.S. business trips.

On a nearby shelf sits a series of Yiddish audio CDs on how to succeed in business that Ginzberg produces and sells. The room, which has an interior that wouldn’t look out of place in a Tel Aviv office building, is on the parking level of his apartment building in a haredi neighborhood about where the building superintendent might sit.

A scion of a Hasidic rabbinic dynasty, Ginzberg lives in Jerusalem’s haredi world, attending synagogue daily and spending hours every morning learning Torah. But by afternoon, evening and night, he is a marketing consultant to more than 100 clients, among them Google and Oracle.

“My key clientele is the corporate world and entrepreneurs in the non-Jewish, non-Orthodox world,” said Ginzberg, 35, a father of four. “One of the reasons I’m trusted so much by the Orthodox community is because they know I’m legit, because I actually work in the real world.”

The Brooklyn native moved to Jerusalem five years ago, just as the movement in Israel to integrate haredim into the army and labor force was gaining attention. Labor force participation rates for haredi men have risen in recent years and now stand at 45 percent; many haredi men still opt to study Torah full time rather than work.

Many haredim see a contradiction between secular workplace culture and their own, but Ginzberg says his black hat and beard are a feature, not a bug. He emphasizes his religious background on his promotional materials, calling himself “Rabbi Issamar” and “a character who just stepped out of ‘Fiddler on the Roof.”’

“It’s harder to be taken seriously, but the novelty that you look different gives you 10 seconds of, ‘Let me see what this guy has to offer,’” he said. “If you meet 20 WASPs and one guy who looks like me, which one will you remember six months later?”

Ginzberg grew up speaking Yiddish and English in an Orthodox neighborhood of New York, and had an early appetite for business. As a teenager, he used classified ads and the early Internet to buy 386-model computers in bulk and resell them for profit. He became a mortgage broker 15 years ago and parlayed that into a consulting business. He now has 120 regular clients that pay $3,000 for 10-hour packages.

To accommodate his haredi lifestyle, Ginzberg begins his days at 7 a.m., responding to late emails from U.S. clients before attending morning prayers at 8 or 9 a.m. He then studies Torah with a partner until 1 p.m., when he moves back to consulting, generally switching between clients in one-hour shifts. Aside from spending two-and-a-half hours with his family in the evening, Ginzberg works well past midnight with West Coast businesses, getting five hours of sleep at most.

“He and I as well think it’s better to learn [Torah], but you can’t learn all day because there’s no salary,” said Moti Feldstein, director of Kemach, an organization that has helped 7,400 haredi men find work. “You have kids. You need to make a living. He says, ‘Look at me: I go around with my suit, with my hat, I learn Torah and I work.”

Clients say what makes Ginzberg valuable is his ability to quickly understand a diverse set of topics despite having no professional training in them. Ginzberg says that comes from being an autodidact with a work ethic formed by learning at yeshiva. He doesn’t have a college degree, but has taught himself, he says, by voraciously reading books and papers on business and psychology.

“I like that he can get to the point,” said Yael Sela-Shapiro, a Hebrew-English translator who consulted with Ginzberg and helped set up a seminar he gave to Google’s Israel office in 2013. “He talks for a few minutes and manages to pinpoint the exact question that can get the information he needs to give you the best advice.”

Since moving to Israel, Ginzberg has become involved in increasing the employment rates of haredi men. He interfaces between Kemach and potential employers like Google and Intel, helping bridge cultural gaps between the high-tech and haredi worlds. And he lectures at yeshivas in Israel and America, introducing students to the fundamentals of business.

“He explains what it is to work, professionalism,” Feldstein said. “You work with a staff, you have a manager, you have to come on time, how to work when there’s someone different next to you.”

Judging from Ginzberg’s Facebook page, he doesn’t just use the Internet to make a living — he also enjoys it. In addition to business advice, he posts links to articles on the Middle East, Shabbat and, in one case, being mistaken for an Amish man. Ginzberg maintains it’s all part of the effort to promote his work.

“You can’t run away from social media,” he said. “Business is three-dimensional. People are three-dimensional. When I say have a good Shabbos, I’m basically proud of the fact I’m a religious Jew. I’m reminding people, whether they’re religious or not, Shabbos is coming. I’m showing everyone that I’m lucky to be who I am and do what I do.”

Waze launching pilot carpooling program in Israel


The popular Israeli navigation app Waze is launching a pilot carpooling program in Israel.

Waze, which Google purchased for $1 billion in 2013, is testing the new application, RideWith, in the greater Tel Aviv area, Reuters reported.

RideWith will use the Waze navigation system to learn the routes drivers take to work and pair them with people looking for a ride to the same areas. The commuter would pay the driver a small fee for gas.

Eventually the pilot program will be broadened to include all of Israel, Haaretz reported.

The program reportedly will be limited to two rides per day and drivers will not be able to earn a living doing it.

It is not known when Google will expand the app outside of Israel.

Mobli takes on Internet giants with event-based photo and video search


Israeli start-up Mobli Media Inc is taking on Internet giants Google, Facebook and Yahoo with an innovative online search tool to find the latest photos and videos across social media, the company said on Monday.

Mobli, which is backed by Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim and big-name U.S. celebrity investors Leonardo DiCaprio, Serena Williams, Lance Armstrong and Tobey Maguire, has raised more than $90 million in funding.

The company's EyeIn service allows users to search for pictures and video clips taken by people at concerts, sports events, demonstrations or natural disasters as they post images on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, a unit of Facebook.

Its real-time, location-based search marks a new twist on a well-established category that typically returns a flood of photos or videos based on popularity or other ranking methods or requires users to wade through separate social media feeds to find relevant images.

Top photo sites include photo-sharing pioneer Flickr, a unit of Yahoo, Google Image Search and Facebook, as well as Facebook's Instagram photo-sharing site.

“Computers are very stupid, we need to give them very specific algorithms to detect what is the centre of the event,” Mobli Chief Executive Moshe Hogeg said in an interview.

“We want to be the Google of crowd-generated visual content,” he said, adding that he expects the EyeIn technology to boost audience traffic and time spent on news websites

PLATFORM OPTIONS

EyeIn is available as a search website, a downloadable mobile app or as an add-on for publishers to install within their own websites to complement text and other information. Partners for the add-on include AOL Inc's Huffington Post.

Mobli expects to share revenue with publishers from advertising as well as earn money from ads on its own site.

The company started as a photo-sharing rival to Instagram and attracted 20 million users. That was the stepping stone to building the search engine over a three-year period, with Hogeg recruiting experts in computer vision and natural language processing from the defence industry.

Hogeg said the biggest challenge was the relevancy of the results and how EyeIn determines which of the plethora of available photos are interesting.

Weighting what is important based on the location of an event is crucial to finding relevant photos, he said.

“If you want to see photos from the NBA (basketball) finals, you will probably like to see photos of players and less of the crowd,” Hogeg said.

EyeIn can scan a story on a news website to calculate what the event is about and create an album of photos that will update itself as the event unfolds.

Mobli will partner some of Slim's companies, though Hogeg would not disclose names. Slim, who owns telecoms group America Movil, is the largest shareholder of New York Times Co .

Other investors in Mobli company include Vic Lee, co-founder of Chinese Internet firm Tencent, and Kazakh businessman Kenges Rakishev, who invested $22 million. Other investor stakes were not disclosed.

Google can show anti-Muslim film that sparked furor, court rules


A federal court in San Francisco ruled that Google does not have to remove a controversial anti-Muslim film from YouTube.

On Monday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that an injunction that had prohibited Google from broadcasting “Innocence of Muslims” should be ended. The full 9th Circuit  Court decided to rehear the case after an earlier three-judge panel ordered Google to take down the film.

“Innocence of Muslims” ridicules the Muslim Prophet Muhammad. A 14-minute trailer dubbed in Arabic was cited as the catalyst for riots in 2012 throughout the Arab world and in Arab communities in other countries.

Cindy Lee Garcia, an actress who was featured in the “Innocence of Muslims,” filed a lawsuit in September 2012 against the film’s director, as well as YouTube and its parent company, Google Inc., in which she said she was the victim of death threats and could not visit her grandchildren due to her appearance in the film, which she believed was on a different subject and had been partly dubbed.

The lawsuit names Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, an Egyptian Coptic Christian living in Southern California, as the organizer of the film who misled Garcia. It also names Sam Bacile, who is believed to be an alias for Nakoula.

Bacile was named erroneously in the media as the film’s producer and was quoted in reports as saying that he was an Israeli-American real estate developer hoping to help Israel with the film. He also said the film was financed with $5 million by 100 Jewish donors — a claim that also was untrue.

Meet Ruth Porat, Google’s new CFO


To the business press, the symbolism of Ruth Porat’s move from her position as chief financial officer of Morgan Stanley to her newly announced perch as Google’s CFO of the future couldn’t be more obvious — it represents a shift in power from Wall Street to Silicon Valley. And there’s no question that it’s a big deal when one of the most powerful women in finance decides that the grass — or at least the money — is greener on the other side of the country.

But Porat’s career leap to the Mountain View, Calif., tech giant, starting on May 26, also means that she is moving back home to the Bay Area, where she grew up, and a brief look at her family history reveals that the forces that led them to end up in northern California were nothing less than the defining events of 20th century Jewish history: the Holocaust, and the foundation of the state of Israel.

Porat’s father, Dan Porat, was born in 1922 what is now Ukraine, and he later moved with his family to a shtetl in the Carpathian mountains and then to Vienna, which is where they lived when the anschluss of 1938 brought the Nazis to power. In a written memoir archived by the Center for Jewish History, Dan Porat recalls going to watch Hitler ride triumphantly into the city. Thanks to his strong grasp of Hebrew learned at cheder, he was able to escape to a kibbutz in British Mandate Palestine. The rest of his family was killed in the Holocaust, and he volunteered to fight in the British Army.

Meanwhile, Ruth Porat’s mother, Frieda, was born during her family’s voyage to Palestine and grew up there. She and Dan married in 1946, and he fought in Israel’s War of Independence. Then, in 1954, they moved to England, where Ruth was born, so Dan could pursue his graduate studies in physics. Unwilling to live in England as a non-citizen, and fearing that Israel was too dangerous for his family, Dan then obtained a joint appointment at Harvard and MIT and moved the family to Boston when Ruth was 2.

However, the climate did not agree with Frieda.

“Frieda wanted to move back to Israel because she could not physically tolerate the New England climate,” Dan Porat wrote in his memoir. “I saw her suffer in the cold she was not used to and promised to bring her to a climate close to that of Israel.”

In 1962, the Porats moved to Portola Valley, Calif., and Dan Porat went to work for the physics design team at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center. Frieda, in turn, pursued a career as a psychologist and organizational consultant, founding the Center for Creativity and Growth and writing several books, including “Creative Procrastination,” “Creative Life Management,” and “Creative Retirement.” She died in 2012.

Ruth Porat attended Stanford University as an undergraduate, as did her two siblings, and currently serves as the Vice-Chair of the university’s Board of Trustees. She has worked at Morgan Stanley since 1987, with one interruption, and during the 1990s, she was co-head of the firm’s technology investment banking group. A major Democratic donor, she was considered a potential candidate for deputy Treasury secretary in 2013, but she withdrew her name from consideration.

In 2014, Porat and her husband, Anthony Paduano, established a post-doctoral fellowship in her father’s name for the study of physics at Stanford, honoring his dogged and ultimately successful efforts over years to complete his education, even taking correspondence courses while he served in the British army during World War II.

While Porat may bring a wealth of experience from Wall Street to one of the world’s richest companies, her father has expressed that hope that his children will never be motivated by money alone.

“One of the dangers of our times is materialism that leaves the soul empty and creates an illusion whereby higher consumption is equated with a better life,” wrote Dan Porat, now 91, in his memoir. “I hope my children and their children will not fall prey to this way of thinking.”

Nightcrawler Nation: Money, news and politics


When I heard my “>Dan Gilroy, the writer-director of their new movie, “Nightcrawler,” to marry me.

To be adequately horrified by the midterm campaign we’ve just endured, all you need to pay attention to is attention itself, and how attention is monetized.

We live in an information age. Every two days, according to Google CEO “>pointed out, “creates a poverty of attention.” We can’t increase the total attention we can pay; despite talk of multi-tasking, attention is a finite resource, a zero-sum game. “>brain. But our attention can be hijacked. The bottom-up part of our brain, which evolved in our primitive past, is wired to pay attention to danger. It’s immediate, instinctive, faster than reason; if fear had depended on thinking, we’d have been eaten.

Television stations are in the business of selling audiences to advertisers. The more people whose attention their programming can grab, the more money they can charge advertisers for 30-second spots. So it makes sense that station owners looking for ratings would air hours of programming dominated by murder, robbery, assault, kidnapping, gruesome accidents — anything that will reliably scare viewers into watching.

That’s what the research I did with Seton Hall professor “>since 1998. In 2009, we did an intensive study of a single TV market, Los Angeles. We analyzed more than 11,000 stories aired by eight stations during nearly 1,000 half-hours of news over 14 days. Here’s some of 

  • A typical half-hour of L.A. news contained 2 minutes 50 seconds of crime news.  That’s more than any other category of news except sports and weather.
  • The average time spent on L.A. government news — including budgets, layoffs, education, law enforcement, prisons, lawsuits, ordinances, personnel, voting procedures, health care, transportation and immigration — was 22 seconds.
  • One station — KCOP — ran an average of 5 minutes and 3 seconds of crime per half-hour, and one second of L.A. government news.
  • Stories about local government led the news 2.5 percent of the time. But stories about crime led more than 13 times that: One out of three broadcasts began with crime. If it bleeds, it leads.
  •  

    That’s the research cited “>“dark money.”

    The total cost of the 2014 elections is expected to reach almost “>studies of an “>or more political ads, providing those stations with more than half a million dollars of ad revenue, but those same 30 minutes have included zero minutes of actual reporting on those campaigns. Demand for air time for political ads during the news led station WHO in Des Moines, Iowa, to add an extra 4 p.m. hour of local news to cash in. A “>Walter Cronkite Award for excellence in TV coverage of politics, and the winners, from markets small and large across the country, do heroic work against long odds, and their stations’ ratings haven’t suffered because of it. I wish they were the rule, not the exception. I wish that getting money out of politics were a hot button issue, instead of polling “>The Distinguished Gentleman,” which Eddie Murphy starred in and Disney released. I fantasized that that movie could make a difference, too. But today’s political corruption makes the legal con job that congressmen and lobbyists pulled on America a generation ago seem quaint.  On the other hand, if Gyllenhaal ever wants to run for office on a reform platform, I’ll be first in line to volunteer as a speechwriter.


    Marty Kaplan, who has been a political speechwriter, a screenwriter and a studio executive, holds the Norman Lear chair at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.  Reach him at martyk@jewishjournal.com.

    Could artificial intelligence hold the key to fighting hate?


    Last week, the Anti-Defamation League released a list of “Best Practices” to counter hate speech on the Internet. Sober and serious, it includes suggestions like “Share knowledge and help develop educational materials and programs that encourage critical thinking in both proactive and reactive online activity” and “Respond to user reports in a timely manner.” It even advises to try “comedy and satire when appropriate.”

    Google’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, hopes there might one day be a more exciting option for dealing with hate speech: artificial intelligence.

    “AI systems may ultimately allow us to better prioritize and better understand how to rank and deal with evil speech,” Schmidt told JTA in a phone interview.

    Schmidt, who was presented last Friday with the ADL International Leadership Award, said Google’s current philosophy is for its search engine to mirror what is available on the Internet as accurately as possible. Google searches are based on an algorithm that is content neutral, so the prospect of nudging aside hate speech would mark a shift.

    “It’s a very tight line to walk because we are against filtering and we are against censorship, so you have to be careful here,” Schmidt said.

    Even without invisible anti-hate bots, Schmidt said the Internet makes it easier to track and counter hate — and to identify hateful people, if necessary — and thus is a greater tool in defeating hate rather than spreading it.

    Of course, identifying hate speech via computer will be plenty difficult given how often humans disagree over what is or isn’t hateful. And given the prevalence of existing concerns about privacy and tracking, AI-enhanced search engines will probably add another layer of complexity to such debates rather than resolving them.

    Who knows? They may even provide some fodder for comedy and satire. When appropriate, of course.

    How Israeli tech survived the war


    “I know that for some of you, coming to Israel after a very challenging summer might cause hesitation,” Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai told a crowd of hundreds of techies wearing neon-pink wristbands and ID necklaces. They sat in an old, restored British train station along the coast of Tel Aviv on Sept. 16, having flown in for the DLD (Digital-Life-Design) Tel Aviv Digital Conference — a two-day event in its fourth year, modeled after a similar one in Germany. It has since become the largest of its kind in Israel.

    “So I’m happy that you did not hesitate, and I’m happy you have come,” the mayor said. “I see it as a sign of confidence and friendship. Thank you all.” 

    The DLD event, one of three tech-related conferences going on in Israel simultaneously, began a tight three weeks after the final blow of Operation Protective Edge, a bloody 50-day war between Israel and Gaza. Homemade rockets launched into Israel by the military wing of Hamas, Gaza’s government, set off daily air-raid sirens in Tel Aviv. One night, a piece of rocket landed on a major Tel Aviv highway, narrowly missing traffic. Gaza health officials estimate that Israel killed more than 2,100 Palestinians, mostly civilians, during the war; 66 Israeli soldiers and six Israeli civilians died in the fighting.

    [More: ” target=”_blank”>took a gut punch from Operation Protective Edge. Hotels and tour companies, which had been on track to have their best year ever, reported dips in business during the war as low as 30 percent to 50 percent. Combine that with the plunge in domestic spending and slowdown in local manufacturing, and analysts are putting Israel’s lost gross domestic product (GDP) between $1 billion and $2 billion.

    But its high-tech industry apparently emerged unscathed — preserved by what has become known as the Tel Aviv bubble.

    Experts say it’s too early to tell whether the war left any real bruises on Israeli high-tech. The second financial quarter of 2014, which ended right as the war began, saw Israeli tech companies raise record capital — a total of $930 million. Results for the third quarter, encompassing the war, won’t be out until October.

    However, judging by two massive initial public offerings (IPOs) that dropped during the operation, Israeli tech was operating on its own economic plane.

    Just a couple of weeks into the war, Mobileye, an Israeli company whose car security systems help drivers avoid collisions, went public in what was the largest U.S. IPO of an Israeli company in history — raising an initial $890 million. And two weeks after that, ReWalk, which creates exoskeletons for paraplegics, became the best-performing IPO of the year when initial investors made as much as a 230 percent profit in the company’s first few days on the stock market.

    At least five other major Israeli companies reportedly went public within the same time frame. The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange continued to rise during the conflict, and had hit an all-time high by mid-September.

    “I don’t see the impact” of the war, said Jonathan Medved, CEO of OurCrowd, an American-Israeli crowd-funding venture that discovered ReWalk early on. “The last month, I’ve been traveling all around the U.S. and Canada, and I haven’t seen the impact at all. People ask how you’re doing, and then they start writing checks.”

    Medved noted: “These tech investors are investing in a risky business in the first place. You learn to work with risk and accept risk — and with Israel, geopolitical risk is just another part of the equation.”

    A young Israel Defense Forces soldier checks out the SkyStar surveillance drone at the Unmanned Vehicles Israel Defense conference.

    Yaacov Lifshitz, former director general of the Israel Ministry of Finance, argued that “high-tech is not so much connected to specific geographic area.  It’s more about ideas, software — things that are not so tied to the ground.”

    A few Israeli startups at DLD said that because a few of their staffers had to report to the Gaza border for reserve Israeli military duty, the quality of their services suffered some — but not enough to affect profits in the long run.

    “I suffer more from Google than from Hamas,” said the founder of an online advertising startup, who attended DLD but wished to remain nameless, referring to a recent algorithm change in the search engine that caused some of his clients to “suddenly disappear from Google.”

    The ad entrepreneur said the war’s domestic blows didn’t affect him because most of his clients are abroad. “Even my Israeli clients have clients abroad,” he said.

    Israeli social-media marketing company Wivo experienced a curious twist: Although profit from three of their largest Israeli clients dipped, a fourth — a T-shirt company with pro-Israel slogans — tripled its exports, more than making up for their loss.

    Wivo executives also learned which ad language caused potential customers to emote the most in wartime. “You should always put ‘Hamas’ in the same ‘support Israel’ sentence,” said Johnny Brin, the company’s vice president of marketing, while making rounds at a DLD night mixer.

    During the week of events surrounding the two-day DLD conference, techies schmoozed and partied across the city, clustering along central Rothschild Boulevard. Colored orbs hung from Rothschild’s trees and startup booths lined its sidewalks; any open spots were packed with hoola-hoopers and street musicians.

    “When we’ve traveled, we’ve found that Israel high-tech is very well-respected — especially Tel Aviv,” said Gil Margulis, CEO and co-founder of QuikBreak, a startup that specializes in targeted mobile advertising. “There’s the two ideas: Israel is like conflict zone, but Tel Aviv is like beach, tech, fun, innovation. It kind of has a different position in your mind.”

    But the war — which because of Palestinian civilian casualties drew unprecedented global criticism of Israel — was an inevitable topic of conversation at a DLD mixer in the backyard of a nameless bar along Rothschild, its awnings draped in vines and twinkling lights. A 21-year-old British tech prodigy who co-founded three startups said he had been trying to ignore friends on Facebook arguing Israel versus Palestine, a conflict he barely understood. “I just told them to chill,” he said.

    Over drinks, an editor at a U.K. tech magazine was surprised to learn that the scientist featured in his magazine for inventing a twerking robot was furious at a different U.K. newspaper editor for his pro-Palestinian coverage of the war. Later on, the same scientist was surprised to learn from another journalist that most Gazans have no way to leave Gaza.

    Two startup teams from Gaza, in fact, were denied entry to the conference, according to Abdul Malik Al Jaber, a DLD speaker and leading Palestinian businessman who runs startup accelerators across the Arab world.

    “The timing is difficult. But the fact that someone like me is coming here shows the interest is there,” Al Jaber said, adding that “economic partnerships between Israelis and Palestinians is the only way to move forward” in the conflict.

    Former Israeli President Shimon Peres, fourth to the podium at the DLD conference, was similarly optimistic. “I think the gate to peace is the new age of science and technology,” he said.

    Peres warned, however, “In every technology, there has to be a moral point. Without fair human judgment, it can cut heads.”

    Peres’ reference to war was one of just a handful throughout two days of conference speakers celebrating Tel Aviv as the world’s most vibrant startup scene after California’s Silicon Valley.

    But half an hour east, near Ben Gurion International Airport — where there was no sea breeze to cut the heat — another conference in a Vegas-style hotel convention center used Operation Protective Edge as a key selling point. At that event, called the Unmanned Vehicles Israel Defense (UVID) conference, the steelier end of Israeli high-tech — weapons and security companies — was showing off technologies recently tested in Gaza.

    Specifically, they unveiled the unmanned spy and attack drones used to assist soldiers on the battlefield and bomb enemy targets. Companies also put large focus on repurposing technology used in Operation Protective Edge for other countries’ wars, and for civilian uses abroad.

    “We’re here to tell you the future is here,” Ran Krauss, creator of three mini surveillance drones currently used in Israel, said at the conference. “We’ve been doing it for quite some time here in Israel, legally and in a very superior way.”

    Former Ministry of Finance Director General Lifshitz, also a past chief economist for the Israeli Ministry of Defense, estimated that of all the country’s high-tech exports — which make up about one-third of total Israeli exports — one-third of those are weapons- and security-related.

    And “if you are trying to sell a system,” he said, “you will always get the question of if the IDF is using it.… It contributes to the selling power.”

    At the UVID conference, expo poster boards were stamped with phrases like “battle tested” and “combat proven.” Israeli weapons giant Elbit Systems showed off images of their Hermes 900 unmanned aircrafts carrying munitions to drop on Gaza, while the smaller startup Roboteam unveiled the “unstoppable” underground bot they created in just four days to help IDF soldiers navigate Hamas tunnels in the heat of war.

    “The Americans have not yet internalized the project of tunnels,” Col. Itzik Elimelech, president of Israel Military Industries in the U.S., said at the conference. “I think we’re pioneers here,” he said, imagining a day when robots could also be used to patrol U.S. border areas.

    RT Aerostat Systems, the company whose white Skystar 300 surveillance balloons have become as recognizable along Israeli-Palestinian border areas as concrete separation walls, said business boomed throughout the war. “The IDF doubled our balloons along the Gaza border,” said Taly Shmueli, the company’s vice president. 

    Shmueli said RT is currently in the final stages of locking down a contract with the U.S. government for providing surveillance drones along the Texas border with Mexico. She hoped Operation Protective Edge would be the final stamp of approval RT needed to close the deal.

    “Really, we are the only tactical mobile system in the world that has proven the system in more than 500,000 flight hours in battle areas,” Shmueli said. “We think it’s a good solution for the Mexican border. The large systems can identify a person from up to 15 kilometers away.”

    Yet another Israeli tech conference last week — the International Cybersecurity Conference at Tel Aviv University — focused on Israel’s growing advantage in the cyber-security industry. “Here in Israel, during the fighting in Operation Protective Edge, there were 2 million cyber attacks daily, which had very little success,” the conference chairman told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

    In dozens of conversations at both the DLD and UVID conferences, most participants brushed off as a nonissue the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israeli products on behalf of Palestinians.

    “What’s BDS?” asked an entrepreneur from England at DLD.

    BDS “doesn’t permeate high tech,” said Margulis of QuikBreak. “I think the tech people aren’t really into that. They go, ‘Look, Israeli technology is awesome — you’re cutting-edge, you’re the best.’ They could boycott Israeli stuff, but they’re going to lose out, because it’s the best.”

    If Israel resumes its war in Gaza at high intensity, Medved of the OurCrowd startup-funding platform said “there’s always the risk of a boycott. But the boycott is limited to groceries or tomatoes or Dead Sea creams. No one has had the courage to boycott Google, Microsoft, Intel.”

    Google pulls ‘Bomb Gaza’ game from app store after backlash


    A mobile game that simulates Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip and invites users to “drop bombs and avoid killing civilians” has been pulled from Google Inc's app store, a company spokesman said on Monday after a public backlash.

    “Bomb Gaza,” developed by PlayFTW and still available as an app on Facebook, simulates the on-going conflict between Israel and the Islamist group Hamas, which dominates the Palestinian territory. Players drop bombs from a fighter jet while dodging missiles from Hamas fighters in black and green masks.

    “We remove apps from Google Play that violate our policies,” a spokesman for Google said, confirming that the game had been removed from the Google Play app store. Google did not specify which policy the game had violated.

    Google Play has rules that prohibit content that amounts to hate speech, bullying and violence and lets users flag abusive content.

    The game triggered outraged comments on the Google app store review page as well as on Facebook. It had been downloaded about 1,000 times since its July 29 launch, according to Britain's Guardian newspaper.

    “You disgust me,” Saj Ishaq wrote on PlayFTW's public Facebook page.

    Facebook did not immediately respond to requests for comment and PlayFTW could not be immediately reached.

    “Please take this off the Play store. It is offensive and I am really let down that Google actually allowed this. If this game isn't removed I'm starting a Google boycott,” Oma Al, a user, wrote on the game's review page, according to the Guardian.

    On July 8, Israel launched an offensive on Gaza in response to a surge in Hamas rocket strikes. Gaza officials say more than 1,831 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed and about 3,000 Palestinian homes have been destroyed or damaged since the offensive began.

    Reporting by Malathi Nayak; Additional reporting by Alexei Oreskovic in San Francisco; Editing by Paul Simao

    Facebook, please manipulate me


    What do you call it when media try to manipulate your feelings without first asking for informed consent?

    Tuesday. 

    Example:  The average Facebook user sees only 20 percent of the 1,500 stories per day that could have shown up in their news feed.  The posts you receive are determined by algorithms whose bottom line is Facebook’s bottom line.  The company is constantly adjusting all kinds of dials, quietly looking for the optimal mix to make us spend more of our time and money on Facebook.  Of course the more we’re on Facebook, the more information they have about us to fine-tune their formulas for picking ads to show us.  That’s their business model: We create and give Facebook, for free, the content they use and the data they mine to hold our attention, which Facebook in turn sells to advertisers. 

    Those are the terms of service that everyone, without reading, clicks “I Agree to” – and not just for Facebook. We make comparable mindless contracts all the time with Gmail, Yahoo, Twitter, Amazon, Siri, Yelp, Pandora and tons of other apps, retailers and advertiser-supported news and entertainment.  If you’re online, if you use a smartphone, you’re an experimental subject in proprietary research studies of how best to target, engage and monetize you.  They’re always testing content, design, headlines, graphics, prices, promotions, profiling tools, you name it, and you’ve opted in whether you realize it or not.    

    Many of these experiments hinge on our feelings, because much of what makes us come, stay, buy, like, share, comment and come back is emotional, not rational.  So it should surprise no one that Facebook wants to know what makes its users happier.  But when they acknowledged last month that they had tested – on 700,000 people, for one week – whether increasing the fraction of upbeat posts in their news feeds made them feel more upbeat (it did), a ” target=”_blank”>the name of his book – in 1984, before the Web was spun. But that didn’t stop  entertainment, which is exquisitely attuned to the marketplace, from making its long march through our institutions.  Today, politics is all about unaccountable corporations manipulating our emotions; they're constantly testing and targeting their paid messages to voters, none of whom are asked for informed consent.  The news industry is all about the audience, and much of its content has long been driven by the primal power of danger, sex and novelty to trap our attention, but there's no clamor for shows and sites to warn us we're lab chimps.  

    John Kenneth Galbraith called advertising ““>Neuroscience now shows what happens: Our emotions are faster than our reason, which we then use to reverse engineer some rationalization for our actions.

    Is there any way to protect people from the “>banishment is an authoritarian solution.  More speech, not less, is the democratic answer to assaults on freedom and agency.  Open-source “>Media Impact Project.) And the place where countervailing speech really wants to get heard is in the media, whose industrial success, like Facebook’s, depends on monetizing our attention.  I’ve seen a lot of stories about Facebook fiddling with the happiness of our feeds.  The irony is that I encountered all of them on media whose owners are just as determined to push my buttons as Mark Zuckerberg.


    Marty Kaplan is holds the Norman Lear chair at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.  Reach him at martyk@usc.edu.

    A growing movement of corporate philanthropy


    When the Israeli mobile maps start-up Waze accepted a buyout from Google for more than $1 billion in June, each of the company’s 100 employees walked away with an average of $1.2 million from the sale.

    An even bigger check, though, went to Baruch Lipner, a Canadian Israeli who hasn’t worked in high-tech or finance for a decade. The acquisition put $1.5 million on his desk.

    A veteran of the venture capital world, Lipner is now the sole employee of Tmura, a nonprofit that pushes Israeli start-ups to donate stock options to charity. If any of the donating nonprofits merge, go public or are bought, Tmura cashes in the options and distributes the money to Israeli youth and educational charities. If the start-up fails, Tmura carries none of the risk.

    Even though Tmura owned less than 1 percent of Waze, the record-breaking deal made 2013 a banner year for Tmura, comprising approximately three-quarters of the $2 million it raised.

    “Our small fraction of a percent was worth a lot of money very quickly,” Lipner said. “A lot of the entrepreneurs running these companies are good people who are happy to help.”

    Waze wasn’t the only Israeli company giving back in 2013.

    As the country’s economy has grown in recent years, experts and corporate advisers are seeing a steady uptick in corporate donations and a growing culture of corporate responsibility.

    Israeli corporate philanthropy experienced a nearly sevenfold jump between 1998 and 2008 — from 89 million shekels, or about $25 million, to 600 million shekels, or about $172 million — according to Hebrew University’s Center for the Study of Philanthropy. More recent data isn’t available, but observers say the upward trend has continued.

    Good Vision, an Israeli corporate social responsibility consultancy that counts El Al Israel Airlines and Bank Leumi among its 25 clients, prepared reports for three companies on corporate giving last year. Now it is writing 10. Of the 320 companies partnering with Tmura, 54 donated options in 2013.

    According to the 2013 Maala Index, which measures Israeli corporate giving, the 82 companies that reported giving gave about 1 percent of their profits to charity, a rate similar to the American corporate giving average.

    Maala CEO Momo Mahadav says the percentage has risen only slightly since 2008 but that the number of companies reporting data has nearly doubled.

    “If we look at the last 10 years, there is a critical mass of Israeli companies that are committed and regard giving to the community as one of the things they should do,” Mahadav said. “The bad news is that that critical mass is about a third of the large companies in Israel. Two-thirds are less committed.”

    Good Vision CEO Ivri Verbin says corporate social responsibility goes beyond writing a check. He notes that most Israeli companies urge their employees to make in-kind donations by doing pro-bono work or volunteering with nonprofits — a reflection of what some say is an Israeli reluctance to donate in cash.

    Many Israelis feel burdened by high taxes, Verbin says, but they’re happy to lend a hand.

    “It’s not enough to give money,” he said. “It’s much more important to be honest, to be responsible. In Israel it’s easy because even the CEOs like their employees to volunteer.”

    Good Vision aims to pair its client companies with charities that could benefit from their services. The leading Israeli insulin manufacturer Novo Nordisk, for example, joined with the Israeli Cycling Federation to fund a bicycle program for Israeli youth because cycling helps prevent diabetes.

    A similar logic inspired JVP Community, a nonprofit created by Erel Margalit, founder of the venture capital firm Jerusalem Venture Partners. By funding youth programming and educational initiatives in poor Jerusalem neighborhoods, JVP Community hopes to foster social entrepreneurship that will complement the firm’s encouragement of Israeli business.

    “We tell the kids about high-tech to make them part of the start-up nation,” said JVP Community CEO Yair Zaafrani. “They don’t have opportunities. They want to be soccer players, which they can’t achieve, or bus drivers or barbers. We want to give them more opportunities, and the connection with JVP opens that world for them.”

    Founded in 2002, the nonprofit receives a quarter of its budget from JVP. Employees of JVP volunteer in the youth programs, and the participants are brought to visit the firm’s offices. Other start-ups funded by JVP also have donated to the nonprofit through Tmura.

    In recent years, several professionals say, the biggest challenge has been teaching Israeli companies the value of organized giving. But as more and more corporations have increased their charitable work, Lipner expects other companies to follow suit.

    “When we first started to pitch the model to give options to charity, it was an educational project,” Lipner said. “Once we started making real money, the story started to change.”

    Israel earned $370 million in taxes on Waze sale


    Israel earned $370 million in tax revenue on the sale of the navigation app Waze to Google.

    Google is set to pay $230 million in taxes on its acquisition of the property rights to the free application for smart phones on top of the more than $143 million in taxes already paid on the purchase.

    Waze on July 25 reported a purchase price for Waze of $966 million in cash in its financial report for the second quarter of 2013, Globes reported. The purchase was completed in mid-May.

    The Israeli firm’s managers and employees have remained in their Raanana headquarters rather than relocating to Menlo Park, Calif., which reportedly was a requirement of the purchase agreement. Google has said that Waze will remain a separate service and an independent company.

    It is not known where Google will register Waze’s intellectual property, though it likely will eschew the United States in favor of a country with a lower tax liability.

    Google apologizes for having Adolf Hitler Square on maps function


    Google apologized for labeling a Berlin intersection as Adolf-Hitler-Platz, its Nazi-era name, on Google Maps.

    The company apologized on Friday upon being made aware of the error, which apparently was edited in by users of its Map Maker function. The Nazi-era name was available on the map for about a day.

    Today the intersection is known as Theodor-Heuss-Platz for West Germany’s first post-World War II president, according to The Associated Press.

    Google said in a statement that “the change in the street name was mistakenly approved, and we fixed it as soon as we were made aware.” The statement added, “We apologize for any offense caused.”

    Google, Israeli government to cooperate on technology


    Google and Israel signed a memorandum of understanding in which the tech giant agreed to provide technological services to the Israeli government.

    Under the agreement signed Tuesday by Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Google Israel CEO Meir Brand, Google will help improve e-government services and open government, as well as support Israeli start-ups.

    Israel reportedly will share ideas and information with the company.

    The agreement “was formulated as part of the recognition of the importance of technology to access government information and services, to reduce the bureaucratic burden, to improve government services to citizens and businesses, and for economic growth,” the Finance Ministry said in a statement.

    Google also will sponsor a scholarship program with Ben-Gurion University for engineering, computer science and public policy students.

    Welcome the automotive industry’s oil-less future


    I first became aware of autonomous cars when I read of Google’s successful attempt last year to drive a Prius from San Francisco to Los Angeles without human intervention. To be clear, a human was in the car, but he was there only in case he was needed — and the need never came up. Since that time, the Prius has driven tens of thousands of miles as Google steadily improves the software and hardware that will replace what automotive writer Dan Neil calls the “wetware” of human beings.

    Last month, Nissan announced that it was going to bring to market an autonomous vehicle in 2020. Just six years from now, presumably, one will be able to buy a car that will drive its owner to work. Stop and think about that for a minute. Those of us who commute daily on the notorious Los Angeles freeways will be able to buy a car that we can program with our destination, and then we can buckle up the seat belt and relax with a cup of coffee and the paper while the car backs out of the garage and proceeds to drive us to work.

    The implications for our lives, for our society, environment and geopolitics are worth pondering — and getting excited about.

    As a Nissan LEAF salesman, and activist/advocate for electric vehicles, I had the rare privilege to ride in Nissan’s autonomous car, a converted 2012 LEAF, the exact model I drive myself. Nissan was demonstrating the vehicle on a secure route set up on the El Toro Marine Base in Orange County.

    Nissan’s silver autonomous LEAF had rectangular slots of approximately 2 inches by 8 inches on both sides as well as front and back. These were laser sensors, I was told, that, along with several button-sized sonic sensors and four cameras, gathered data on the physical surroundings of the car. The sonic and laser sensors “read” the traffic and any possible objects that could interact with the car while the cameras read the stop signs and speed limit signs.

    Four of us got in the car and the driver began driving normally. After a few seconds, he flipped a switch and took his hands off the wheel and feet off the pedals — the computer and its sensors were now in control of our car.

    Because we weren’t on a real road with real traffic, it wasn’t scary, but it was still a bit disconcerting. We watched as the car traveled along the road, keeping perfectly between the white lines and driving the posted speed limit. After driving a short distance making turns and stopping at stop signs, we came across some cars parked along side of the road. Some engineers had a human dummy on wheels that they controlled with a long pole. As we approached, they quickly shoved the figure into our path, mimicking a person suddenly walking into traffic from between parked cars, something that happens all too frequently with deadly consequences. In our case, the car immediately took evasive action, skirting the “person.” It was easily as quick an action as your typical driver would take if he or she were paying attention. At the end of the ride, we all got out of the car, the operator pushed a button on the fob, and we watched as the car drove down a row of cars in a parking lot, paused while an SUV pulled out of a spot, then backed into the empty space perfectly in one move.

    Google and Nissan are not alone in this field. GM, BMW, Toyota, Mercedes and the upstart Tesla are all working toward the goal of releasing self-driving cars in the next decade. Convincing the safety regulators and the insurance companies comes first. No citizen will be allowed to own one of these cars until both of those entities give it a green light. California and Nevada have both passed laws specifically giving companies the permission to test these vehicles on our roads.

    So, what will a future of autonomous cars be like? 

    It will be safer. Paying attention, unfortunately, is not something at which many drivers are particularly adept. 

    According to Nissan, there are 6 million crashes in the United States every year, costing $160 billion and ranking as the top cause of death for 4- to 34-year-olds; 93 percent of those car accidents are caused by human error, mostly due to inattention.

    So, when I talk to people about autonomous cars, their initial reticence is quickly tempered after hearing these statistics. Humans have set the bar pretty low for computers to surpass. With these cars, the number of traffic accidents would begin to drop immediately. Injuries, fatalities and the massive financial cost would gradually be reduced as the public embraces this safer means of travel. 

    They will be programmed to drive with efficiency and safety as the two highest priorities. The combination of efficient driving and electric vehicles, which are inherently more efficient than internal combustion, will result in a dramatic drop in the use of oil for personal transportation.

    The geopolitical implications of this are vast. As America and other nations become less dependent on foreign oil, the often corrupt or cruel regimes that rely on oil revenue would collapse.

    Back home, even bigger changes would occur. The purchase of cars for personal use will taper off because what people want is to be transported from point A to point B. A high percentage of folks will gladly give up ownership of a car and let the computers do the driving for us.

    There are several new companies that combine social networking with transportation. Lyft, Sidecar and Uber are well-known examples. Much like a taxi, they can be summoned with a smart-phone app.  Right now, most are driving a conventional internal combustion car, but soon, they’ll switch to electric cars as the charging infrastructure becomes ubiquitous. At some point, the Uber car will come to pick you up, but there will be no driver. As a matter of fact, the car will not even have a steering wheel. It will be designed from the start as a 100 percent self-driving vehicle with no human controls needed.

    Crazy? No. Economics will mandate this future.

    Consider the costs of owning a car. You have to buy the car, insure the car, maintain the car, fuel the car, wash the car, house the car and park the car. All of that costs a lot of money, especially when you consider that the car may sit for 22 hours each day doing absolutely nothing but taking up space that you have to pay for. When you bought your house or condo, or rented your apartment, if there is a garage or parking space involved, you are paying for it. In most cases, this is a lot of money. If you didn’t have a car, you could buy a house, condo or rent an apartment that was constructed with no parking and save that money. There is a high-rise condo building proposed for Boston that’s generating controversy because it purposely has no parking. Building codes today mandate a certain number of parking spaces for each unit of living space. In a future of self-driving cars, there will be no need to spend that money and take up that space for cars because people won’t own them.

    A single four-passenger electric driverless car could easily take the place of 10 to 20 cars. A typical scenario would involve a commuter who wants a car at her door at 7:30 every morning. She walks outside at 7:30 and gets into “her” car. If she’s willing to share the ride, then she’ll pay less. The computer knows where everyone using the service lives and where they want to go, so a single car will design a route to efficiently pick up and deliver everyone with minimum time spent and distance traveled. While the initial wave of commuters are at work, the same car will continue picking up people throughout the day, stopping now and then at high-powered charging stations to recharge. After work the commuters are picked up and delivered back home. Then the car is kept busy in the evening taking folks to movies, restaurants and clubs, and delivering them home safely, no matter how much they’ve had to drink. A self-driving car is always a designated driver!

    Because one car can essentially work 24/7, the cost drops dramatically, EVs are inherently cheaper to operate, and getting that kind of use out of one car means the cost of the ride to the end user can be very inexpensive. This is why the economics of this technology will drive the transition. When all you want is to get from point A to point B, why not take the least expensive and safest method?

    And yes, I know there are many of you who are saying to yourselves that you’ll never give up your car, and that’s OK. Not to be morbid, but you’ll all die eventually — that’s what we humans do. Surveys of the youth of today show a marked decrease in the number of them who want cars. They are the ones using Uber and Lyft, and they will eventually replace us old car-lovers.


    Paul Scott is a co-founder of Plug In America, the nation’s leading nonprofit voice for consumer adoption of electric vehicles. He sells electric cars and solar power for a living.

    Israel’s antitrust panel taking a look at Google-Waze merger


    Israel’s antitrust regulatory commission is investigating whether the Google-Waze merger constitutes a monopoly.

    The Israel Antitrust Authority opened its investigation on Wednesday, the Israeli business daily Globes reported.

    The probe will focus on whether Google’s purchase of Waze, a free downloadable navigation application with more than 50 million subscribers, should have obtained permission from the authority before the merger and whether it could create a monopoly in the Israeli market.

    Waze on July 25 reported a purchase price of $966 million in cash in its financial report for the second quarter of 2013, Globes reported. The purchase was completed in mid-May.

    The Israeli firm’s managers and employees have remained in their Raanana headquarters rather than relocating to Menlo Park, Calif. Google has said that Waze will remain a separate service and an independent company.

    The antitrust authority has asked Google Israel’s general manager and Waze Israel’s CEO for financial and other information, according to Globes.

    Also investigating the merger are the Federal Trade Commission in the United States and Britain’s Office of Fair Trading.

    Google bought Waze for less than $1 billion


    Google paid less than the previously reported $1.1 billion for the Israeli navigation app Waze.

    The purchase price came in at $966 million in cash, Waze reported July 25 in its financial report for the second quarter of 2013, the Israeli business daily Globes reported. The purchase was completed six weeks ago.

    Waze is a free downloadable navigation app with nearly 50 million subscribers.

    Prior talks between Waze and the social networking site Facebook reportedly had broken down over Waze’s insistence that the company’s managers and employees remain in their Israeli headquarters in Raanana rather than relocating to Menlo Park, Calif.

    Israeli who murdered his parents used tips he found online


    An Israeli who stabbed his mother and father to death was convicted of murder on Monday partly because he searched online for tips including “how to kill your parents and get away with it.”

    Daniel Maoz, 29, wanted money from his inheritance in order to pay heavy gambling debts, the Jerusalem District Court found. He was sentenced to life imprisonment for the 2011 murders.

    The case presented an unusual challenge to the prosecution: DNA evidence linking Maoz to the killings was found at the murder scene, his parents' apartment, and he tried to explain that away by accusing his identical twin brother of the crime.

    In its decision, the court cited other physical evidence and an examination of the defendant's computer to refute that.

    The incriminating Internet searches also included “can soap clean DNA from a knife?” and “murder for inheritance”, a transcript of the ruling showed.

    Maoz said he made the searches out of “academic curiosity.”

    Reporting by Jeffrey Heller; Editing by Louise Ireland

    Google-Waze deal investigated by FTC


    The Federal Trade Commisssion is examining Google’s $1 billion deal to purchase the Israeli navigation start-up Waze to see if the purchase violated any antitrust laws.

    After the deal between Google and Waze was finalized June 11, Google believed it didn’t need to submit the deal for review because Waze’s revenue in the U.S. is less than $70 million. If the FTC determineds there were violations in the deal, Google will most likely have to re-sell Waze at a loss. Apple, Facebook and Microsoft all previously wanted to purchase the Israeli start-up.

    Even if no violations are found, Waze could still be determined to be a “firm that plays a disruptive role in the market to the benefit of customers,” which is possible since there is no other social-based mapping service like Waze on the market, the New York Times reported. In that case, Google’s purchase can also be invalidated.

    Billion-dollar Waze


    UPDATE [7/29/13]: Google bought Waze for $966 million.

    Just a couple of years ago, the Israeli entrepreneurs behind the traffic-fighting smartphone app Waze were knocking down the door of every news outlet in Los Angeles. They were seeking publicity to help forge their way into the iPhones and Androids of L.A. drivers by promising some reprieve from “Carmageddon” weekend on the 405 freeway. Waze argued that its brave new method of crowdsourcing map and traffic data — via social media, with input from an active user base — would be the perfect tool to navigate drivers around the monster 405 freeway project and resulting traffic jams. The company needed press, and bad — because if enough people didn’t use the app, it wouldn’t work for anyone.

    Well, they don’t need the press anymore. On June 11, Google Inc., the American tech giant at the forefront of online mapping, bought Waze Mobile for between $1.1 billion and $1.3 billion, according to various media reports (neither company has disclosed the final sum). Google’s acquisition is one of the largest in the history of the Israeli tech industry and stands as a major vote of confidence for both Waze and Israel’s startup scene at large.

    These days, the Waze guys, who once reached out to Los Angeles eager for attention from any reporter, are mum. They are happily cloaked under Google’s strict no-press policy. “We are Google employees” now, says one of the app’s three founders over Facebook chat, “and we cannot speak to the press.”

    Even without Google, Waze picked up a fast and loyal following in its first five to six years on the market: The app already boasts almost 50 million users in 190 countries and counting.

    But no one will ever love Waze quite as fiercely as Israel.

    [Related: What is it with Israelis and high tech?]

    The buzz of the billion-dollar sale could be felt last week through the summer heat in Tel Aviv and environs, where Waze has long been regarded a national treasure — the top of the class in a nation of 1,000 startups. “Congratulations, you have reached your destination,” cheered Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a reported phone call to Waze’s founders on the night of the sale.

    “The Israeli people feel that they have some part in this huge success story,” said Izhar Shay, head of Israel operations at venture capital firm Canaan Partners. “We were the test group. We were the first users of an international breakthrough project, and we were part of the reason why Waze was so successful.”

    The local market may only be about 7 million strong — a shortcoming that some say has slowed the overall progress of consumer-oriented invention in Israel — but it’s famously hands-on.

    “By nature, people here are happy to try out new technologies, new concepts, new ideas — especially if they’re introduced by Israelis,” said Shay. “When Waze started, everybody knew somebody at Waze. So if people had bugs or issues with something that didn’t work properly, they would pick up the phone and call to yell at somebody at Waze.”

    There have been local concerns, over the years, that large foreign companies are harvesting many of the best Israeli business ideas at an unripe age. But industry analysts who spoke with the Jewish Journal argued that the Waze buyout, which reportedly includes an agreement to keep Waze’s headquarters in Israel for at least the next three years, is the best possible scenario for a local company looking to go global.

    Gil Ben-Artzy, co-founder of UpWest Labs — a training program in Silicon Valley for Israeli startups — called the sale a natural and smart evolution for Waze, and a “beacon” for other Israeli entrepreneurs.

    “I find it hard to accuse somebody who sold their company for over $1 billion of selling too early,” said Jonathan Medved, head of Israeli crowd-funding venture OurCrowd.

    Waze “fought like a lion to keep its development in the country,” Medved said. “The fact that these guys showed that you can fight that battle and win, and still sell your company for a good price, means that everybody’s going to try to do it.”

    Up until now, Google Maps has been a dirty word in Israel; everyone wants to support the home team, plus Waze appeals to the Israeli nature to jump into the conversation, so the app has become extremely accurate due to all the input. But the two companies’ new all-star collaboration has now set the tech blogs on fire with speculation on the future possibilities of online mapping.

    One thing they all can agree on: Waze’s secret weapon in a world clamoring with startups — and undoubtedly one of Google’s top reasons for scooping it up — has always been its devoted army of Wazers, who together helped the app reach the critical “viral” stage by telling all their friends and helping chart new territory within Waze’s virtual map system.

    In combining their strengths — manual and social-media mapping, respectively — Google and Waze have hit such a sweet spot in the online map market that Southern California-based interest group Consumer Watchdog has even expressed concern that the duo might become a monopoly.

    Facebook and Apple, who were also rumored bidders in the race for Waze, can’t be too happy about the new superpower.

    “When you are driving in your car and you’re using Waze … you’re stuck in traffic, and all you have is this small screen in front of you that delivers the most important news to you,” Israeli investor Shay explained. “Now Google has access to our hearts while we are at a very significant part of our day, and we have nowhere to go.”

    Israeli techies and investors are also touting the Waze acquisition as a ribbon-cutting of sorts for the new and exciting “consumer-oriented” frontier of Israeli innovation.

    In the past, the country has been known more for its security software, semiconductors and other business-to-business (read: boring) technology. 

    Waze is the polar opposite — a people’s product to the core. With its cutesy icons and game-like elements — including swords and badges for those drivers who submit warnings about “objects in the road,” police stakeouts, etc. — the app has proven as addicting as any Farmville or Angry Birds, only loads more useful. For the Waze addict, a commute is no longer complete without the soothing voice of Waze’s token she-bot, coaxing her customer through each lurch and turn.

    To be sure, the app has had its detractors. Some traffic-safety advocates have worried that Waze’s highly interactive, video-game-like experience can prevent drivers from paying attention to the real-life road in front of them. The company has responded by installing voice-command and motion-sensor functions, as well as a keyboard lock for when the vehicle is moving — although drivers can easily override the latter by telling Waze that they are in the passenger’s seat. Last week, New York Magazine blogger Kevin Roose wrote in a concerned post on the acquisition: “As Google considers adding revenue-generating features like local advertising to Waze’s already-packed interface, it may raise the question: How much information is too much for drivers to handle safely?”

    Yet, for Waze’s defenders, the proof is in its adaptability — and with Google’s latest infusion of cash, the app will no doubt keep adapting to meet user demands. 

    Consumer-oriented innovation “requires a certain aesthetic understanding, and a certain design excellence” that Israel hasn’t necessarily been known for in the past, said Mick Weinstein, a longtime tech writer based in Jerusalem. “And that’s part of what’s so wonderful about Waze, is the user experience.”

    In the wake of Google’s winning bid, Oren Hod, co-founder of video creation marketplace VeedMe, which connects videographers with prospective clients, said startups like his are catching Waze fever.

    “I think [the sale] gave hope to some entrepreneurs and Israeli startups that are not super technology-oriented … to make it big in the U.S. market,” said Hod.

    Local and international investors, too, are apt to be inspired by Google’s big move, said Shay — and “we should expect to see additional votes of confidence in Israeli startups as a result.”

    Medved added that he has “never seen a time when there have been more good-quality Israeli startups that are really attracting worldwide attention — I think it’s a golden age.”

    Waze, for one, doesn’t need the press anymore, nor the hasbara. As Google’s gorgeous Tel Aviv campus buzzes with new life and Waze enjoys its hard-earned spot on top of the world in Ra’anana, it begins to sound superfluous — even old-fashioned — to rave about Israel’s “Silicon Wadi” as if it were a niche or an underdog.

    Google buys Israel’s Waze to protect mobile maps lead


    Google Inc bought Israeli mapping startup Waze on Tuesday for an undisclosed sum, acquiring an online real-time mapping service to safeguard its own lead in one of the most crucial aspects of smartphone usage.

    A source close to the matter told Reuters on Monday that the Internet search leader was putting the finishing touches on a deal to take over the company for $1.3 billion. Google said in a Tuesday blog post that it had closed the deal and now planned on using Waze's service to enhance its own Maps product, but did not say how much it paid.

    Maps and navigation services have become vital for technology companies as consumers adopt smartphones and other mobile devices. Waze uses satellite signals from members' smartphones to generate maps and traffic data, which it then shares with other users, offering real-time traffic info.

    Waze's product development team will remain in Israel and operate separately for now, Google said. Eventually, its service will enhance the U.S. company's Maps app, while the core Waze product itself will benefit from integrating Google-search capabilities.

    “Imagine if you could see real-time traffic updates from friends and fellow travelers ahead of you, calling out 'fender bender…totally stuck in left lane! and showing faster routes that others are taking,” Google Geo Vice President Brian McClendon wrote in his blogpost.

    Four-year-old Waze, which has 47 million users, has raised $67 million in funding to date from firms including: Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Blue Run Ventures and semiconductor company Qualcomm Inc. Facebook Inc was, at one point, an interested buyer, according to media reports.

    Reporting by Edwin Chan; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Leslie Gevirtz

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