May 20, 2019

Following the Lead of Israel’s High-Tech Industry

Lee Moser

With undergraduate degrees in political science and history from Tel Aviv University, Lee Moser knew of historian and politician Michael Oren, a popular teacher. So in 2009, when she read that Oren was being appointed as Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Moser was persistent in seeking to work for him.

She knew Oren’s son, Yoav, from the Hebrew Scouts and asked him how to reach his father. Protexia — an Israeli slang word that roughly translates as “it’s not what you know but who you know” — only got her so far, but after a series of grueling interviews with staff at the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, she was hired seven months later and was on a plane to Washington, D.C. 

Moser refers to her time at Israel’s embassy as “four years of no sleep.” While she found Oren to be an inspiring statesman and individual, the Obama-Netanyahu years were a challenge for Israeli diplomats. After eight months serving as Oren’s executive assistant, Moser was promoted to be his chief of staff. Knowing the names of every senator, congressman and American Jewish leader, and reading the newspapers before reporting for work each morning, were par for the course.     

Yet, when it came to hasbara — a Hebrew term for pro-Israeli advocacy — diplomacy was no match for Israel’s thriving high-tech ecosystem. No matter what political maelstroms were erupting, when it came to Israeli technology the conversation was always positive. 

“Every place I went, the best ambassador [for Israel] was its technology,” Moser said, pointing to disruptive Israeli innovations such PillCam’s ingestible camera and the navigation app, Waze. “I developed a great passion for the tech ecosystem in Israel and was looking for a way to be a part of it,” she said.

Upon her return to Israel, Moser worked as a business development manager at one of Israel’s largest consulting groups before founding WeModel, an initiative connecting women entrepreneurs with women mentors. It was there in 2015 she met Shelly Hod Moyal, a founding partner of the venture-capital and angel-investor platform, iAngels, with whom she said she had “instant chemistry.” Now, three years later, Moser is one of three female partners at the firm as well as its head of investor relations. Since Moser began, iAngels’ staff has grown from four employees to 30 — with women comprising the overwhelming majority — and the company has raised and invested about $150 million on behalf of Israeli companies in financial technology, enterprise software, frontier technology and environmental technology.   

With more than 1,000 active investors from around the world, iAngels is one of Israel’s top venture-capital firms, Moser said. While Jewish investors traditionally looked to invest in Israeli companies out of an impulse to support the Jewish state, people today are investing in Israel because it’s good business. “We’re the eyes and ears for investing in Israel,” she said. 

“Basically everything that we do, from the due diligence to the reporting, investors can see online,” Moser said. “Once they see that we’re transparent in sharing all the information we have, they trust us more.” 

She dreams of returning to politics one day, but with an emphasis on economics and public-private partnerships.

“Our generation needs to step up to the plate and get more involved politically,” she said. “We need to create more jobs and create more engagement, and I want to be there to lead it.”