Israeli tech startups flock to US amid uncertainty at home

Israeli technology startups move to the US amid unrest at home

A increasing number of Israeli software businesses are setting up shop in the United States, drawn in by wealthy American investors and pro-business legislation, and given a boost by a planned judicial reform at home that has alarmed investors.

This represents a turnabout because Israel had succeeded in the previous ten years in convincing more of its entrepreneurs to establish their legal identities domestically.

The tech sector accounts for 14% of jobs in Israel, so it may not represent a mass exodus of workers, but registering businesses or intellectual property (IP) abroad might have an impact on where taxes are paid, which in turn affects government revenue.

Entrepreneurs and investors told Reuters that there were sound commercial reasons for forming a company in the United States, particularly in Delaware, which is seen as pro-business and a tax haven due to its low corporate and absence of state sales taxes.

However, several also brought up Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s reform of the judiciary, which his right-wing administration claims is necessary to address court overreach but which detractors see as an attack on democracy.

Although the reform does not immediately influence the IT industry, Ian Amit, a former Israeli military officer, is moving his startup across the Atlantic because he is concerned about its effects.

“It’s just a very high level of uncertainty,” said Amit, who is registering his cloud security company Gomboc, powered by artificial intelligence, in Delaware.

According to him, the key issues are corruption and the lack of clarity regarding the systems in place to defend his company’s interests in terms of taxes, the law, and intellectual property.

Israel’s government runs the risk of losing money if its proposals, which have triggered unprecedented statewide protests, scare off the IT sector, which contributes about 5% of the nation’s GDP and 30% of tax revenue. Some business owners appear to be voting with their feet already.

According to a survey by the Israel Innovation Authority (IIA), which also revealed that businesses want to register future intellectual property abroad, as many as 80% of new Israeli tech startups in 2023 have so far chosen to incorporate in Delaware, up from 20% in 2022. The quantity of businesses polled by IIA was not disclosed.

Investors don’t like uncertainty, according to IIA Chairman Ami Applebaum, who is also the ministry of innovation, science, and technology’s chief scientist. “The fact that you are shaking up the judicial system puts Israel in a very high level of uncertainty and investors don’t like uncertainty,” Applebaum said.

In addition to established Israeli businesses expanding their research and other operations outside of Israel, some of them are forming in Delaware, according to Yair Geva, a partner who oversees the tech practice at the law firm Herzog, Fox and Neeman.

So, he continued, “I suppose it’s more of a problem than simply the inclusion part of it.

According to a Startup Nation Central poll of 615 businesses, 29% of Israeli startup/tech companies planned to relocate their headquarters over the next six months, while 8% had already started the process.

Some business owners and investors claimed that the choice to register in the US was commercial and not political.

Since the tech industry in Israel is so largely dependent on foreign investment, a decrease in startup funding as a result of interest rate increases and the failure of major tech investor Silicon Valley Bank may be motivating businesses to follow the money.

Ronen Feldman, founder and CEO of, said: “If you want to operate in a global world and you want American investors, then that’s the way it is.” “It’s all about business,”

CropX’s CEO and co-founder Tomer Tzach is thinking about changing the state of Delaware where the company is incorporated.

Tzach expressed his regret, saying, “At the end of the day, as CEO, I need to do what’s right for my shareholders, my investors, and my firm.

Since 2015, Michael Fertik, the founder of Heroic Ventures, an early-stage venture investor based in Silicon Valley, has backed more than a dozen Israeli firms. Existing Israeli firms seeking a new funding round from him must switch since he insists on Delaware incorporation.

“Having a Delaware C Corp from the start is preferable. Without exception, it is true in every situation, he said.

However, some people are concerned about the Israeli government’s revamping of the judiciary.

Over the past ten years, Adam Fisher, a partner at Bessemer Venture Partners and a longtime investor in Israeli entrepreneurs, has been pleased to fund Israeli innovation companies. He is not pressuring his current portfolio companies to change, but he does now advise business owners to organize in Delaware and establish an Israeli branch.

“I don’t see it as ‘Israel’s not good anymore. What will transpire is unknown. Nobody is aware. Simply put, Fisher added, “it’s uncertainty versus assurance.

Ayal Shenhav, head of high-tech and venture capital at legal firm Gross & Co., claims that establishing a business in Delaware is primarily psychological.

“You can’t really claim ‘judges in Israel are corrupt’ with any certainty. Nobody is expressing that, he claimed. The general consensus is that things are not as steady as they once were and that many people follow the herd.

According to Yaron Samid, managing partner of the TechAviv Founder Partners fund, incorporating in Delaware removes “one variant in a highly uncertain business of a startup” for American investors, although investment in Israeli businesses will still be made.

Because of the huge pool of talent in Israel, he asserted, “Israel tech is not going anywhere. Whether these companies are organized as American or Israeli corporations really has no bearing on the tech ecosystem.”


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