American television legend Larry King is joining up with the Technion in Haifa to establish the Israel Silicon Valley Chambers of Commerce.
The Globes financial newspaper reported that the initiative will foster Israeli high tech, by strengthening ties between the two locations and to channel budgets from multinationals for the opening of R&D centers in Israel.
King, the former CNN host who currently hosts a successful show over the internet, and Technion president Prof. Peretz Lavie will serve as the presidents of the Israel Silicon Valley Chambers of Commerce, the report said. Its chairman will be Niv Jacobi, who manages much of King's businesses.
King will be involved in financing the project through a NIS 2 million investment via a holding company, and in opening doors in Silicon Valley, reported Globes. The project will try to help start-ups from the concept stage through funding and the opening of suitable doors for sales.
The new chambers of commerce will be launched on February 26 in Tel Aviv, followed by a launch at Stanford University in Palo Alto.
Speaking to Channel 10 News on Sunday about the project, King said, “I’ve always felt a close, emotional tie to the State of Israel. I’ve been there in the 1990s and I hope to go there again this year. I remember, when I was a little kid, putting dimes into a little box to support the hopefully, some day, State of Israel.”
King noted that he has interviewed every Israeli Prime Minister “except for Ben Gurion”, adding that Israel and the Silicon Valley are “the two greatest technical powers in the world” and that bringing them together is only natural.
“I think it’s a wonderful idea and anything I can do to help, I’m here,” he said.
“I think Israel is one of the high-tech leaders in the world,” added King. “Silicon Valley is where it all began and I think this idea of merging together in a chamber of commerce is a great idea. I think it can work. So any small help we can be, anything I can do to help promote Israel and Israel’s advance in the technical area.”
Success, said King, would be defined in more growth and in getting American and Israeli companies to exchange ideas. “As the Silicon Valley invests in Israel, Israel benefits and so does Silicon Valley. It’s a mutually beneficial thing,” he said.
Just last month it was reported that Israeli high-tech startups have sparked a flurry of mergers, acquisitions and investment bids unseen since the dotcom bubble burst in 2000.
In the third quarter of 2013, Israeli new ventures raked in $660 million, up from $488 million the year before, according to IVC Research Center.
From 2003 to 2011, nine Israeli startups were bought, whereas six have been sold already this year, the most recent sale being that of 3D motion-sensor developer PrimeSense to Apple for roughly $350 million.
Other recent acquisitions include Facebook's $150 purchase of Onavo, IBM's purchase of security software provider Trusteer for $1 billion in September, and Google's purchase of map application Waze by Google for $1.3 billion.
Companies such as Intel, IBM, Microsoft and Yahoo have established offices around the Technion, recruiting students and turning the area into a "second silicon valley."