For decades, Israeli techies and entrepreneurs have flocked to Silicon Valley and other world tech hubs, some recruited to top companies but many just trying their luck abroad. And Israel’s world-renown startup ecosystem has attracted multinational corporations and tech giants from across the globe with many opening R&D and innovation centers and local offices and hiring top Israeli tech minds.
Israeli startup Nexar, which developed software that predicts and prevents car accidents, is trying something new: an initiative aimed at flipping the script on talent recruitment. The company, fresh from a funding round two weeks ago in which it raised $30 million, announced this week that it was launching a program to recruit skilled tech workers from around the world, offering perks such as $20,000 relocation bonuses, paid annual trips home, and Hebrew lessons.
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In a lengthy blog post on Nexar’s site titled “Work Hard and Play Hard in Tel Aviv: Announcing our Relocation Program,” co-founder and CEO Eran Shir, a former manager of Yahoo’s Creation Innovation Center in Israel, lays out the reasons the company has taken this unusual step.
And the selling point is Tel Aviv.
“If you’re into startups, you should come to Tel Aviv,” Shir began. “The combination of amazing quality of life, great concentration of talent, and most importantly, life missions that actually matter — real attempts to change the world for the better, and not just become rich — that’s where Tel Aviv excels.”
Praising Tel Aviv’s beaches, cultural venues, the food scene, the nightlife, and even the weather, Shir wrote that it is a city people fall in love with.
Nexar, he said, “the first in the world to deploy a commercial vehicle to vehicle network (yes, that’s cars talking to one another),” and “the first to deploy a commercial grade AI-powered safety technology in a smartphone,” is expanding rapidly, and “in an effort to recruit top talent, we’re opening a relocation program for people who want to join us in beautiful Tel Aviv… for a year or more.”
The company is looking for engineers, developers and products designers and the benefits, in addition to the signing bonus, the paid trips home and the Hebrew tutoring, also include help with looking for apartments, schools and communities, paid housing for the first six weeks in Tel Aviv, a paid cell phone, accounting advice, and help with the work visa process.
In a phone interview with NoCamels, Shir says Nexar, founded in 2015, “has always been multinational and multicultural, from Day 1” and is looking for “more diversity and people from different cultural backgrounds.”
Shir emphasizes that the program is not just for Jews who can immigrate to Israel under the Law of Return, but for applicants from all over the world. “My co-founder [Bruno Fernandez Ruiz] is a non-Jewish, Spanish national,” says Shir by way of explanation.
Nexar has over the past two years hired a number of people from abroad with great success, says Shir, and wanted to have a “structured, more formal program in place.” The company is looking to hire another two dozen people in the short term, to add to its existing 50 employees, “but we expect more growth,” he says.
Shir explains that Nexar sees this project as a mission and a long-term investment in the company and its future and wants to see other Israeli startups and companies doing the same.
“It’s high time Israel took its place as the Mecca for startups,” Shir tells NoCamels, “it’s the best place to be.”
Nexar is building a “large, impactful company based in Israel,” and is seeing others, including Wix and Fiverr, doing the same.
Responding to a recent report by the Israel Innovation Authority, which predicted a severe shortage of hi-tech workers in the coming years, Shir says that it’s true the “Israeli government is not doing enough to create the pool of skilled workers that the high-tech industry needs” and “more needs to be done,” but Israel also needs to “open up to the world and start attarcting people and not just exporting people and knowledge.”
He says that while Tel Aviv is known as an expensive city and the cost of living here is among the highest in the developed world, a phenomenon that sparked mass protests across Israel in 2011, “compared to San Francisco and New York, Tel Aviv is pretty affordable.”
“Look, I’m not trying to compete with the salaries Facebook or Google offers workers in Silicon Valley, that is unusual anyway. If you look at that area [like San Francisco], you’ll see that it’s unaffordable anyway, that the cost of living is way too high,” Shir tells NoCamels.
Nexar is providing a “good mission and a different company culture and I think that things like helping with finding schools and apartments and providing a community is often more important to people than another $10,000 a year.”
The response, says Shir, has been “very positive and seems to be striking a chord, with people reaching out and congratulating us” on the program.
Nexar, he tells NoCamels, sees itself building bridges with the world.