Daily Israel Report

IDF ‘Graduates’ Form New Tech Elite

‘Graduates’ of IDF tech unit lead top Israeli businesses.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 8/13/2013, 4:14 PM

IDF Soldiers (illustrative)
IDF Soldiers (illustrative)
Flash 90

It’s no secret that former soldiers who served in the IDF’s technology units can be found in key positions in the world of Israeli hi-tech. Now several hi-tech leaders have revealed just how deep the connection goes in interviews with The Guardian.

Several ex-soldiers who spoke to the paper all served in the same unit: Unit 8200, which analyzes intelligence gathered by various systems, including phone calls, emails and satellite broadcasts.

Among the companies created by ex-8200 soldiers is the fashion website Stylit. Programmer Yaniv Nissim said that the work involved in creating the site was not so different from what he did in the army.

“A lot of the practices and the technology that we used in the army are used today at Stylit to address the problems we are aiming to solve in fashion… It's how to take huge amounts of information and from that to understand users' behavior,” he explained.

Another new creation from IDF tech “graduates” is Rompr, a mobile app for parents of toddlers. The company’s chief executive and three co-founders all served in IDF tech units.

Like Nissim, executive Noa Levy said that her technology unit experience helped lay the groundwork for her accomplishments in the workplace. Both rely on “trying to make sense of the patterns you find when you study a lot of data and turning that into actionable information,” she explained.

A former deputy commander of Unit 8200 noted that the unit’s recruitment and training techniques may play a role. The unit selects some of Israel’s smartest teenagers, Colonel (res.) Nir Lempert said, then trains them in problem-solving methods and encourages the most important ingredient of all: creativity.