Chapter 3. How Israel Became a Startup Powerhouse

I'm standing in a packed, poorly ventilated club located underground in Tel Aviv. No matter where I stand, I'm in the flow of traffic. As a result, more of my glass of wine is on the floor than in my stomach. I can barely hear what my companions are saying over the loud music and even louder talking. The cigarette smoke is scorching my eyes. I'm surprised no one is dancing on the bar. This is, after all, Tel Aviv.

"Our table should be ready soon," my host for the night, Ayelet Noff, screams to me, even though I'm standing only a few feet away. Ayelett runs a Web consulting practice she calls Blonde 2.0. Tall, leggy, and—not surprisingly—blonde, Noff is remarkably girly for an Israeli, especially compared to another fixture in the Tel Aviv Web scene, Orli Yakuel.

Yakuel is a noted blogger who knows more than almost anyone I've met about the latest, hot Web 2.0 app, no matter where in the world it has been created. She's blonde and pretty, but girly she isn't. She once told me she and her friends would get rewarded during their time in the army by getting to go jump out of planes with the boys. The army had an ulterior motive here: No boy would wimp out of the jump after a bunch of girls bounded out of the plane with glee. In Israel, it's not uncommon to see a gaggle of teenaged girls huddled together on a corner giggling just like they would in a mall in the United States. Only in Israel, they're dressed in fatigues and strapped with ...

Get Brilliant, Crazy, Cocky: How the Top 1% of Entrepreneurs Profit from Global Chaos now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from nearly 200 publishers.