From Silicon Valley to the IDF: 18 Year Old Entrepreneur Is Home
Ben Lang is one of those people who have gotten to experience life from lots of interesting angles. He's a hi-tech entrepreneur, having started not one, but three internet startups. He recently lived and worked in Silicon Valley, and got the New York Times upset enough that they threatened to sue him. Now he's made aliyah, and is already working in the hi-tech industry here in Israel.
Forgot to mention: Ben is all of 18 years old – and he will be joining the IDF this coming March!
While most of us who have made aliyah from the West have given up something (anything from a good job to Entenmann's donuts!) Ben has given up a whole lifestyle – and not jus a lifestyle, but the lifestyle that deep down, members of the “Start-Up nation” strive for. Example: This past summer, Ben attended a special incubator program for teenage entrepreneurs, living in Silicon Valley – on a total of $250 for the whole summer!
Ben was in the program as a result of his startup experience. “I started my first online business when I was 14, selling things on eBay,” says Ben. “A few years later, I started EpicLaunch, a popular blog for young entrepreneurs. And, I started a site called MySchoolHelp, where high school students can share notes and help each other on assignments.”
Perhaps his most interesting adventure so far was an attempt to circumvent the paywall that the New York Times put up this past year for its online edition. Readers are allowed to browse 20 articles a month, after which they get a message that if they want to read more, they need to subscribe. “The system they use is pretty simple, and just checks cookies,” says Ben, which gave him the idea to develop a web program for browsers that would simply erase the cookies. To spread the word, he bought a domain name called “FreeNewYorkTimes.com” - which raised the ire of the folks at the Times, who threatened him with all sorts of legal pain if he did not “cease and desist” from using their good name for his nefarious purpose. “They sent a letter out the day after I bought the domain name. My hosting service took down all my sites, and I was out of touch for a couple of weeks. They worked pretty quickly,” he says.
But Ben's hi-tech adventures are now taking on an Israeli flavor. He made aliyah by himself a few months ago, and was recently followed by his parents (“I think I influenced them to come,” he says). Now he's working at a startup in Rehovot, and will soon be joining the IDF. “I plan on staying in Israel, so joining the IDF, like others my age, is the right thing to do,” he says
Ben grew up in New York and attended Ramaz High School, but he's been to school in Israel as well – for 9th grade, when he and his family spent a year here. “I loved the lifestyle and decided then I wanted to live here,” he says – and the cool thing is that he's stuck to that choice, even after his Silicon Valley adventures!