MizMaa innovates with the best of East and West
By Leon Gettler >>
MIZMAA is an intriguingly-named an Israeli venture capital fund which provides long-term investment capital to back leaders making innovative changes to marketplaces, by using the best of the East and the West, to help tech companies in Israel come to fruition.
MizMaa Ventures is focusing on early stage Israeli technology companies taking their innovations to the rest of the world.
Its focus is in areas where Israel has “an unfair competitive advantage” compared with the rest of the world.
Aaron Applbaum, a partner at MizMaa said much of this intellectual capital comes out of successful military service, from a county that is small and isolated, facing much larger and better equipped adversaries.
Israel’s competitive advantages in technologies include artificial intelligence (AI), big data, cryptography, cyber security, cloud, and devops.
ISRAEL INTO CAR DEVELOPMENT?
Mr Applbaum said another area MizMaa was focusing on had been in the area of mobility.
Israel has never produced a car. The centres of excellence for cars are in Japan, Germany and the United States.
However, this will change as the next 15 years will see the car industry transformed by machine-to-machine communication, connectivity, zero latency communication protocol and cyber security, with cars all connected to the internet and utilising sensors and radars. These are areas where Israel does excel.
“And because of that, we have taken these deep technologies where Israel is amongst the world’s best and applied it to an ageing disrupted industry like the automobile industry,” Mr Applbaum told Talking Business.
He said cars of the future would be smart, connected, autonomous, electrified and shared.
“The entire trillion automotive mobility world is getting turned on its head,” Mr Applbaum said.
“Our job fundamentally is to look 25 years out, work out what’s going to happen, work our way backwards to figure out what technologies are going to get us there and then identify people who can captain those ships.
“And the world is changing. Cars are going to drive themselves and packages will be delivered via drones and there’s the level of connectivity between people.”
BEHIND THE MIZMAA NAME
MizMaa is the combination of two Hebrew words: Mizrach and Maarav – which means East and West. Mr Applbaum said this sums up the direction of MizMaa, it is a truly global venture capital fund. One partner is in San Francisco in the greater Bay area, another partner is in Hong Kong, and yet another is constantly on flights between Manhattan and Tel Aviv in Israel.
“We have access to the large global corporates and capital markets of East Asia, Hong Kong, China, Japan and Korea,” Mr Applbaum said.
“We have access to the intellectual capital of California, Silicon Valley. We have access to the customer base within New York, the insurance companies, the healthcare industry, the banks, all under one small roof, so that when a company takes capital from MizMaa, what they’re really getting is a truly global network,” he said .
MizMaa has a team of just five. It is lean and mean.
But counted amongst those five are the former global head of IBM’s fintech platforms, a former vice-chairman of JP Morgan who ran all of investment banking in Asia, a former general partner of the $8 billion Silicon Valley fund LightSpeed Ventures, an F-16 pilot with a background in mathematics and computer science and Mr Applbaum himself comes from the hedge fund world and has done structured finance in New York and Washington DC, predominantly focused on cyber security and enterprise software.
“While we’re a very lean team, we have very complementary skills and it’s not our first rodeo so we punch above our weight,“ Mr Applbaum said.
Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at www.acast.com/talkingbusiness.