Seambiotic—Algeaic Solution for Biodiesel Fuel

April 15, 2008

Imagine algae so thick you can not see your hand six inches from the surface of the water. At Seambiotic (check out the article on what they are doing in Haaretz) they are pumping CO2 into algae and exposing the algae to the air with water paddles in a low tech method to create high tech biofuel, omega 3 vitamins and other products. (photos to follow)

We visited this pilot project that produces a special algae to be mixed with gasoline or other compounds for new fuel efficiency. US and European oil companies are very interested in the results of this pilot and it may be scaled up to commercial production within a year.

We drove to Ashkelon to see Seambiotic…just in time for a code red alert for a Katyusha or Qassem that fell in the area when we arrived. But to get that story go to Craig Newmark’s blog


Zoran and Rambam

April 15, 2008

Our first site visit was Zoran. They design the chips in Digital Multimedia: leading company in digital cameras, tv, dvd, mobile, printing. Zoran is a worldwide company Europe, Asia, US and Israel; headquartered in Sunnyvale. Showed how Israeli chip development is integrated into globally dominant consumer multimedia industry.

Second stop was Rambam Hospital in Haifa. We heard about how victims in Lebanon War in 2006 were handled with extraordinary caring. Rambam is building a 750 bed underground hospital to handle anticipated casualties for the probable next war—Hezbollah or Iran (heaven forbid).

Interesting factoid: Rambam has Israeli Arab and other non-Jewish doctors in rough proportion to their population percentage in Israel. The patients are not only Israelis but Palestinians from Jenin and even Gaza. During war or peace Rambam exemplifies Israeli pluralism.

The Marker Conference

April 14, 2008

Marker is the largest Israeli tech conference where the who’s who of “Silicon Wadi” convene. Of three thousand attendees 30 were from abroad; our group constituted one third of the foreign contingent. Four of our group were conference speakers: Robert Scoble, Cathy Brooks and Deborah Schultz participated in panels, while Craig Newmark (Craig list) gave the opening keynote. Lots of high energy networking and schmoozing. Yossi Vardi, the dean of Israeli high tech and the conference master of ceremonies, publicly acknowledged our group and it seemed that everyone knew of our visit. Yossi has graciously hosted us for a number of events and helped to plan some of our activities during this week. With warmth and great Israeli humor, Yossi is one of the best ambassadors for Israeli tech innovation and is known as a “techie rock star”. You may not know his name, but one of his companies ICQ was sold to AOL for a reported $400 million. It is known to you as instant messenger. So, when you next text message give a nod to Yossi for your connectivity.

Craig’s keynote focused on his hobby to create lists as Tikkun Olam on the web. Craig’s list is built on trust and of the 10 billion page users a month, there are very few who do misuse the system.

Robert Scoble (who interviews innovators and profiles new technology for Fast Company) spoke about where web 2.0 (more interactivity potential including video, audio, blogs, etc) is going. Mobile devices will make an extraordinary difference as people upload their visuals and the visual and audio uploading revolution is only beginning.

David Sable (who is not part of our group), COO for Wunderman advertising agency, posed a fascinating proposition in his panel. Google is getting money so advertisers can find us. We should get paid to get contacted. He thinks we are creating our own personal brands on Facebook; the customer should be in on the money making part of search.

Met Akiva Tor, the new Consul General for San Francisco and we spent quite a bit of time together. He is interested in what our group has done and hopefully will integrate new technology into the planning for his tenure in San Francisco. Perhaps our experiment in traveling geeks to Israel will have a ripple effect on bringing new media technology into how the Israel Consulate will make the Israel connection more relevant and interactive for the Bay Area. That would be sweet.

This post was sent from the van going to Haifa and I am connected to the internet through an AirCard provided from an Israeli company called Sierra Wireless. So I am connected 24/7 in Israel.

Who are the Traveling Geeks?

April 11, 2008

Arrived in Tel Aviv early morning April 11 and spent day resting, walking on the beach, and strolling through the large open market. Shouting vendors, shoving shoppers all crowded in stalls with aromatic spices in large sacks, fresh vegetables in bins, halvah for the slicing—Tel Aviv in its glory!

For Erev Shabbat, Ilene and I went to R’anana (suburb of Tel Aviv) and participated in a spirited Orthodox service—men and women singing, dancing, and praying with joy. After we were hosted for dinner by Ilene’s friends Sam and Diana Schwartz, who schmoozed with us until midnight. Lots of political talk—in brief, Iran danger looms great and colors how people here view the US elections. More in later posts about the mood of Israelis after I have listened to a few more thoughtful people.

We await the arrival of our group—self-identified as the traveling geeks. For those who may not know, “geek” is a self-effacing, affectionate term for a technology enthusiast. The dark side of “geekiness” is that many do not have much of a life outside of the internet and the virtual communities cohabited on line. Our itinerary combines technology presentations, mixing with Israeli techies, bloggers (their geeks meet our geeks) and tours so we don’t confuse virtual reality with Israeli reality.

Our group is a colorful mixture of men and women, Jews and Gentiles, young and old (me), veteran and first-time Israeli visitors. Each knows several others, but we have not been together as a group before this trip. Know there will be a lot of conversation among us as we share perspectives and experiences in our journey and post them for you.

To see who we are and what others are posting please check out our new, informal website

Here we go, again

April 9, 2008

Welcome to my journey to Israel in 2008 as part of the Innovation Israel Mission. This is a follow up to my personal journey to Israel in 2006

For the past year I have been working with the San Francisco Consulate Office to help organize a unique mission of bloggers, podcasters and new media people from the SF Bay Area to meet with top Israeli innovators and tech people. We recruited some of the most well-known and respected people in the blogishere. Together, the ten of us will be a roving narrowcast through Israel from the evening of April 12 through the evening of April 17. We will be linking to each other at the site, so you can see what each of us is writing, mostly in real time as it happens. During this week there will be occasions when we are all in the same place with the same speaker and other times (such as the Marker Conference on April 13) when we will be dispersed among 2000 conference attendees.

This journey would not have been possible without the support and inspiration of some extraordinary people.

My wife Ilene Serlin. We recently married and our meeting was a direct result of my trip to Israel in 2006 (she arrived in Israel right after I left). If you are curious about our story check out our wedding website . Ilene encouraged my efforts and is accompanying me on this trip. She will be my companion as we explore Israel together through our meetings with tech professionals and other Israelis in multiple fields including psychology (her field).

My mentor and close friend Ron Berman. Ron introduced me to volunteer our marketing skills for the Jewish Community in 1981 and we have been supporting each other’s efforts in the non-profit world ever since. In 1989 the two of us journeyed to the ex-Soviet Union, Hungary, and Israel. We were commissioned by UJA to develop the advertising campaign to raise funds for Operation Exodus that resulted in the rescue, rehabilitation, and renewal of 1 million Jews to Israel and the US. This trip to Israel in 2008 is inspired by Ron’s lifetime of work for many causes. May everyone be blessed with mentors and friends as I have been.

The San Francisco Israel Consulate General (part of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs) David Akov and Ishmael Khaldi. Davidi and Ish took our idea and made it a reality through their efforts with the government in Israel, who is hosting us. We are indebted to their dedication and boldness to innovate a trip that has not been underwritten by the Israeli government before—to host bloggers in the new media to write whatever they wish about the Israeli innovators they will meet. Ish will accompany our group through the week in Israel.

My colleague Brad Redderson. Brad has been my full partner in working to bring the trip to fruition. He has been a great support to the Consul both in his guidance and his dependable action to make the trip work. You can listen to his podcasts of the trip on

There are many Israelis who have prepared the way for us. They are hosting, meeting, and socializing with the group to lift the curtain for us—and through our posts and podcasts to you— on Israel innovation and innovators.

Looking forward to the journey.