Silicon Wadi: Israeli high-tech explored at Berkeley conference



Ronni Zehavi got quite a Chanukah present last month. On Dec. 11, he sold Contendo, a Web services company he co-founded in Israel four years ago, to Akamai, a major global high-tech player. Sale price: $268 million.

It also exemplifies the stampeding success of Israel’s high-tech sector — sometimes called Silicon Wadi, drawing on the Arabic word for “valley” — over the last 20 years. Zehavi and his partners came up with a great idea, outhustled the competition and wound up with a quarter-billion-dollar fairytale ending.

Because Contendo benefited from Silicon Valley venture capital early on, it also exemplifies the close relationship between Israeli innovators and the Bay Area. The company, which has a research and development center in Netanya, Israel, has been headquartered in Sunnyvale since 2010.

That relationship is on the agenda of “Israel Through the High-Tech Lens,” a two-day conference starting Wednesday, Feb. 1 at U.C. Berkeley.

The conference, which will have more than 35 speakers and 10 sessions, is the biggest event yet for the institute, which launched in March 2011 under the auspices of Berkeley Law (formerly Boalt Hall). Other sponsors include the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology, Israel 21c and the California Israel Chamber of Commerce. 1/26/2012