Moonshots in Faraway Places: Why Eric Schmidt called me an idiot

Eric Schmidt believes it and so do we.

Technology will soon enable people to have all the information they need in the palm of their hands regardless of wealth status. He has set up a fund Innovation Endeavours  intended to invest in the Israeli and US entrepreneurial ecosystem and I was honored to be invited to have dinner with him when he recently visited Tel Aviv. A diverse range of entreprenurs were present representing the best of the Israeli tech ecosystem. Coming from different industries and backgrounds these entrepreneurs helped shed light on the many facets of Israeli innovation and creativity, these included to name a few: Mickey Boodaei CEO of Trusteer (acquired by IBM), Ido Bachelet Phd and Assistant Professor in Life Sciences at Bar Ilan University, Sagie Davidovich CEO Spark Beyond (artificial intelligence), Ofer Haviv, President and CEO Evogene, Maxine Fassberg CEO Intel Israel.

It was a privelege to hear Eric’s views on innovations and the future of tech. Being the chairman of Google he rules the world 🙂 and has a unique vantage point to speak from. Eric told us about his travels and his visits to China, Berlin, London and even Iraq, that he travles a lot seeing Google at work everywhere around the world. He questionsed a lot the people around the table about what makes Israel the “startup nation” (I suppose he got his answer by the chutzpah on show :)). He mentioned several times that Israel is second only to Silicon Valley by the intesity and diversity of entrepreneurship.  Unsurprisingly as the table was full of Israelis each person was not afraid to give their own personal opinion and insights. Being Israeli entrepreneurs they explained to him that he is wrong, that there are many problems and reasons that Israeli startups can’t succeed, why the goverment is wrong (in their policies on tech) and education system is rotten (there is a large braindrain with many Israeli top academics now based abroad). I guess Eric’s experience with different  cultures led him to understand that the Next Google can come from Israel. I was the only optimistic around the table, saying if Bitcoin can become a huge economy growing out of nowhere with no home, then obviously huge things can come out of the smallest places like our country.

On that note I asked Eric whether Google will support and adopt Bitcoin. It will, so will there be a Googlecoin and if so Googlecoin bank? Google will not go into financial services so no Google bank anytime soon and no threat to eToro in becoming the world’s largest mass market digital finance institution 🙂

When I asked if Android will remain free and open? He said of course, anyone who says it isn’t is an idiot…well there you go conspiracy theorists 🙂

In case Eric Schmidt was unaware which country he was in one entrepreneur closed the dinner by explaining to him that Google’s future was uncertain since they are not using his technology and are suffering from NIH syndrom (not invented here). Eric was humble and suggested to benchmark Google technology vs his company’s tech.

So with the internet of things and emerging technologies will the next big thing be from a faraway place unknown to most, outside of the traditional superpowers? Eric Schmidt believes so. Watch this space…