Microsoft and Google have found a new place to fight over employees:
Israel. The Israeli publication Globes and others are reporting today that Google will be translating its services into Hebrew and expanding its small presence in Israel.
I just spoke on the phone with Danny Yamin, Microsoft Israel’s chief executive, who is in Ranana, Israel. Yamin’s not real worried about Google, saying that his main competition comes from IBM, Oracle, and elsewhere. “When it comes to employees, for the good and talented people there is always competition,” Yamin says. “But what happens in Israel maybe is different than other places — we have many talented people and 24 percent of the workforce holds a university degree, which is a huge percentage. I’m not saying it’s easy to get the most talented people. But we have quite a lot of them.”
Meir Brand, Google’s chief executive in Israel — and a former Microsoft employee, of course — told the Israeli publication Haaretz that several things precipitated Google’s move. “Israelis are chronic surfers. The search is the main use they make of Internet, while for Americans, the main use of Internet is email.” Also, search-engine advertising in Israel has yet to take off like it has in the United States, offering Google a chance to grow that market, according to Meir Brand. And Google says it’s making the move because there are so many good software engineers in Israel.
The Haaretz article notes that “Google famously has a weakness for the workers of arch-rival Microsoft and even found itself in court after poaching a top employee in China.”
Yamin tells me that Israeli’s many good universities, culture of risk-taking, and government support of startups are all positive influences on the tech sector. And he says that kids in Israel emulate the adults who have done well at Microsoft Israel and other tech firms.
“It’s a very vibrant community, very vibrant people,” Yamin told me. “People are very willing to changes. For years (in other countries) tech people do the same thing every week, every weekend, but people here are willing to accept change, not only willing to accept change, but see change as an opportunity. Change is everything when it comes to new technology.”
Yamin says that he believes that Israelis are going online faster than any other nation in the world, except for South Korea.