episode 14 – the art of technology | Dr. Yossi Vardi
In this episode, we speak to Dr. Yossi Vardi, a technology entrepreneur, and investor. As one of Israel’s first high-tech entrepreneurs, Yossi has a deep understanding of technology and startups. He talks about why technology and art are connected, what tech entrepreneurs need to think about, what Kinnernet, the imagination festival he founded, is, and much more.
Resources and links
Artworks and other topics mentioned during the podcast can be seen in the following links:
- Yossi Vardi
- Erwin Chargaff
- Discovery of DNA Structure and Function: Watson and Crick
- DLD Conference: Digital-Life-Design
- Kinnernet, the imagination festival
- ITP NYU | Tisch
- Burning Man
Yaniv Golan from Israel, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
*the transcript was produced with the help of AI, mistakes might appear.
Nir Hindi: [00:00:00] Hey podcast listeners. Welcome back. And thank you for joining us at The Artian podcast, where we explore the connection between art technology and entrepreneurship. I am very excited for today’s guest as he’s one of Israel’s startup nation father figures, Dr. Yossi Vardi. Welcome, Yossi.
[00:00:16] Yossi Vardi: [00:00:16] Nice to be here.
[00:00:18] Nir Hindi: [00:00:18] Thank you Yossi for joining us. Let me give maybe an, a kind of brief introduction to what you are doing. And, um, I definitely going to miss a few things because the list is very long. So for more than 47 years now, you are already created or were involved and built more than 85 different startups in various fields including software, energy, internet, and mobile. ICQ is one of the most famous ones pioneered instant messaging owned by AOL. If you grow up in the nineties, you definitely know what I’m talking about today. You are the chairman of DLD and four years from now, you are involved in the peace conversations. The world street day journal Europe selected you as the tech top 25. Tech Crunch awarded you as the best investor personality. Haaretz,a leading newspaper in Israel chose you among the 50 persons of the decade.
[00:01:12] And the list, as I mentioned, goes on and on and on. Therefore to catch your CFO conversation is a fantastic opportunity. And for that Yossi, I’m thankful
[00:01:21] Yossi Vardi: [00:01:21] thank you very much.
[00:01:23] Nir Hindi: [00:01:23] Yossi, you are very familiar with entrepreneurship. You were very young entrepreneurial back in the sixties in Israel and since then you got involved in entrepreneurship in through the years.
[00:01:35] And what I’ve noticed in the last few decades, entrepreneurship became a very popular topic or desirable goal in many countries. Now, many countries trying to attract entrepreneurs; companies want to have entrepreneurial employees. And we have a massive number of startups that coming from all around around the world.
[00:01:55] And many of them look to Israel and as someone that knows the ecosystem very well, I’m just kind of wondering what makes Israel the right environment for entrepreneurship in that sense.
[00:02:07] Yossi Vardi: [00:02:07] Okay. It is true that in, recent years we have a continuous stream of people who are coming to Israel to try and understand why we have so many startups and why so many youngsters are willing to take risks and to try and start their own companies. We see here, corporations, investors, government, cities. There is a continuous parade. I call it High Tech Safari because of people are coming here and look at us as animals in the Safari and usually the explanations you get to explain this phenomenon, things like the government policy, the level of education, the effect of the army, et cetera, et cetera. And all of these things are correct, but you have all these things also in other countries. This only cannot explain what’s going on here. My explanation is that the reason why we have this sort of thing is not because of financial or technological or education reasons only it has to do with the culture in order to have a thriving startup community you need a specific culture, a culture, which courage risk-taking a culture, which helping each other and culture, which encourage people to become entrepreneurs and to thrive, to accomplish business and technological accomplishments and the main reason is that behind every Israeli entrepreneur, there is a Jewish mother.
[00:04:05] And to be a Jewish mother. You don’t have to be Jewish and you’re going to have to be a female. Jewish mother, it’s not ethnic. It’s not gender. It’s some kind of a mental disorder you see in this country at the 1st of September when the kid goes to first grade to school for the first grade when he’s six years old, he or she, his mother will tell him.
[00:04:33] “And don’t forget, after all that we have done for you asking, asking you for one Nobel prize is really too much”. So they, and Kim know that he has to go now and work 12 years in order to accomplish his Nobel prize and this is the kind of culture we have. If people are motivated, people are risk taking.
[00:04:54] And since Israel is a small country, people are also caring for each other in a higher degree, which you see in other societies.
[00:05:03]Nir Hindi: [00:05:03] I’m interested to hear from you and maybe the listeners want to hear from you. Do you think at least some aspects of this culture can be replicated or created locally in other places?
[00:05:13] Yossi Vardi: [00:05:13] Look, culture is very much embedded in the personality of human beings, you know, You look on immigrants, they can adopt the new culture, but there is always will be something missing from their childhood. You know, some things which are embedded when you are a kid, they are embedded even not directly, or now every Israeli kid is being exposed 24 by seven to a brainwash of their parents.
[00:05:45] And it’s not that they go and preach them. But for comments, for instance, when you watch the TV, You’ll know when you watch the TV and you will see somebody who is a body builder in some countries or, or a very athletic in some countries, it will be praised in Israel it also will be praised. But if the will be a program of about Albert Einstein, every Jewish mother will tell her son, you see, this is Einstein.
[00:06:13] It is smartest man in the world. We like him, you know? So this kind of brainwashing is going. On and on and on in the school, in the streets with comments, from your friends, what people appreciate, what people at the Meijer, what people regard as important. So it’s very hard to replicate. Sure. You can, you can replicate something and there are things which you cannot replicate.
[00:06:40] I tell you what you can replicate, and this is for startups to succeed. You need. Whoever an ecosystem, which support it. You have to remember that trying to do a startup is a huge undertaking. You know, you have usually three young people who has no experience. You know, it is, well, they probably just finished the army and they try to create a vanture, which have to deal with issues like developing a product.
[00:07:08] This, if you think the product serving the customers, raising funds, hiring people managing the people, many of the taking that in big company, you have 200 people which are running those things in a startup. You have three guys who have to do all of it. It’s almost impossible to do it without the support of some kind of an ecosystem.
[00:07:29] And in Israel, we have a very developed ecosystem where people not only are helping each other ad hoc, but many people are volunteering to give talks in order to educate other people. All the big companies in Israel are availing spaces for the startups, you know, to do events, et cetera, et cetera. So what you can replicate is the ecosystem component of it to a certain extent, what is more difficult to replicate is a culture which will motivate the people and attribute to them, but they have to take a risk and they have to thrive for not only success, but mainly excellence and accomplishment. Yeah.
[00:08:16] Nir Hindi: [00:08:16] I mean, you know, I often been asked about the book startup nation and I tell them it’s a great book, but the army has a big part over there and I think that from very young age in Israel, people already have this mindset that they want to be their own bosses. They want to create things. They want to build a, so it’s kind of started. Yeah, very, very early. two years ago we participated together in a panel and the whole event was very unique event.
[00:08:40] The title was “Art as a way to Innovate” and we host this event for one of Israel, top technology units, which was not the usual. It’s a very engineering oriented, very, I would say super logical, super intelligent people. on the stage, you spoke about your experience about analyzing startup and trying to understand, and over there, you kind of connected the world of art and the world of entrepreneurship for me.
[00:09:06] And I’d be happy if you can share with our listeners, what was it?
[00:09:09] Yossi Vardi: [00:09:09] Okay. 22 years ago, I made a modest investment in four Israeli young people, which my son, who was one of them brought them to me because at that time I was already used to fund startups.
[00:09:25] I was an angel investor. I didn’t know I was an angel investor because at that time it was called an angel investor and they came with the first internet wide instant messaging called ICQ. And we didn’t know what will be, what will happen within co with this concept. One of the founders made the bet with the, the other people that, eh, they will be able to get about 3000 fuses.
[00:09:53] Well, in the first month we got 10,000 users. After three months, we had quarter of a million. After eight months, we had our first million. After 10 months, we had our first 2 million. And the number just grew and grew and grew to hundreds and hundreds of millions. And I was sitting in front of my computer.
[00:10:17] Totally amazed because we didn’t do anything to market the product. We didn’t spend a single penny. People just came and downloaded it today. This one Norma is quite known in the internet, but at that time it was totally. Magic. It was like a magic, you know, how, why a product is being downloaded so much with no need to promote it after.
[00:10:44] And for seven, by the way, for seven consecutive years, it was the most downloaded product in the internet every month, about 3 million people downloaded it and it really was amazing. And then I thought that then AOL came and we sold it to AOL for a very nice price. And then I came to the obvious conclusion that what I have to do from now on is just to replicate this success.
[00:11:13] And every week I will create or will fund another product and we will sell it to AOL or to some other buyer and life will be very nice. But I need that to be able to understand what’s going on because at that time I observed the phenomenon, but I didn’t have any understanding why it happens. So I decided that I will spend time, try to create an algorithm for creating compelling products. And I began to work on developing the Unified Globalized Generalized Theory of Compelling User Experience. I spent three years trying to develop the algorithm. I bought about 200 books, which are here in the shelf of my labral library about all kinds of different user experiences.
[00:12:07] And after three years, I came with a presentation of about 400 slides, which I call the First 100 million users are always the difficult one. And with no insight whatsoever, I developed the Vardi rule. Everybody likes to have a rule called after him and the value rule say that the amount of slides you need to explain a concept is in inverse relationship to your understanding of the concept, which mean, if you understand the concept you need one slide and you, if you don’t understand, you need 400 slides in order to try and to explain it. And I realized two things. One is that if you are able to reduce something to algorithm, the magic goes away.
[00:13:03] And it’s become a commodity. It’s not a, it’s not an experience anymore. I’ll give you an example – a look at that electric lights, electric lights, when it was that’s introduce on the 25th of December 1878, 25,000 people took a train from New York city to Menlo park in New Jersey. To see the laboratory of Thomas Alva Edison lead that for Christmas because it was so beautiful. Today you appreciate the existing of electric lights only when you’re at your own pace jump and you have darkness, then you say, man, you realize that that electric light is beautiful. When these guys came to see the light in Thomas Alva Edison laboratory, it was an amazing experience. So observation number one was if you are able reduce it to algorithms and the magic goes away.
[00:14:08]my second observation, which was very important was that there are certain people. We are wired differently from what regular human beings are wired, you know, and these special people, they are very talented. I don’t know how they acquire the talent. I think it’s a god gift.
[00:14:29] I think when they are kids and they sleep at night to go to come to them and touch their shoulder and tell one guy you, your name is Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and I will give you a talent to write such a beautiful music that people will go for 300 years and pay through their nose to hear your concepts, because you will be able to write so beautiful music, or they went to another one and touch his shoulder and told him you will be able to write the most beautiful stories for movies and this happened to Spielberg. And then they went then the shows there, Oh, for a guy by the name of William Shakespeare and told him, you will be able to write such compelling stories that people will read your story 600 years after you wrote them. And this is the nature of talent.
[00:15:24] You cannot explain how the are able to resonate with people so much so well. And then people are going after this. Balance to see their work because they are able to reach the level of communicating, not just with the brain of people, but with the hearts of people, by the way, all these people. And this is very important.
[00:15:49] They are motivated by passion. They’re not motivated by money. They’re motivated by passion. You know, they have the talent and it’s like a fountain within them and they have to spread it. Yes, they need to make money in order to live, but they thrive on the appreciation of people to their talent. You know, this is the difference between incentive, which you can obtain by offering people money or karrot or waving something in front of their nose.
[00:16:20] And motivation. Motivation is something which come from within. So, and then what I realize again, 22 years ago, when software just began to take its very strong graphic form, you have to remember that until 20 years ago, software was just zero ones or letters or techs. You didn’t have all these wonderful screens with 64,000 shades of color and the ability to do graphic. And when this happened, you need an artist in order to create the software experience, the product experience, and the product experience has to do with art more than with technology. It’s actually the product experience is the mitigation between the art and the technology for the two of them.
[00:17:12] And. It’s something which will be very compelling. So the software take care for the functionality. And the art take care for getting user experience. if we have time, I can give you two examples. But nevertheless, once I understood that, and again, I’m talking now about around 2000, I began to go and look for talented people in the software industry, because there were very few and most of the people didn’t realize it yet and everyone I found was talented. I used to give them a check of $100,000 and tell them go and develop something. I don’t care what, but to go and use your, or tell him. And I would like also people are asking me, what is the difference between art and technology? here, I need to tell you a little story about a scientist by the name of Erwin Chargaff was a chemical biologist, and he is the guy who discovered the proteins, which are connecting the two helixes of the DNA.
[00:18:24] And he discovered that these connections are all of them are made of three or three out of four proteins, which are the four proteins are the building blocks. He didn’t discover the double helix. But they discovered the protein. And based on these discovery, Watson and Creek were able to discover the double helix of the DNA, which is of course, one of the most important discoveries of the 20th century.
[00:18:54]then they wrote a book called the double helix Watson & Creek, and he was asked to write a critic about a review about the book. He didn’t got the Nobel prize. You know, they got the Nobel prize. They didn’t get the Nobel prize, but based on his work, they were able to get another place.
[00:19:10] And he wrote the following thing, which is very important. He say, if Watson and Crick wouldn’t discover the dabble, Lex, somebody else would have discovery a year later or maybe 100 year later, but somebody will discover it. However, if Picasso wouldn’t draw the Les Demoiselles d’Avignon and Shakespeare wouldn’t write the Tempest. Nobody else would ever that needs. So this is in a nutshell, the difference between art and technology, the two of them are very important, but they are completely different. Technology. Technology is kind of their, you know, Kevin Kelly, the legendary editor. First editor and creator of Wired the magazine wrote the book called the words technology wants, and any spooky say that technologies it’s there it’s there. Maybe it was not discovered yet, but it felt like a mineral mineral in the ground. And eventually somebody will unveil it. Art is something totally different. Art comes from within, from within you and something which is now happening it’s the fusion of art and technology, which means you have now a new kind of art, which use technology as a substrate
[00:20:34] Nir Hindi: [00:20:34] material.
[00:20:35] Yossi Vardi: [00:20:35] Okay. You use that technology as the material on which you express your art. And they’re the result community now, which is called makers and they are doing wonderful things with technology, but actually they create art.
[00:20:50] I have a brother who is very gifted and create all kinds of wonderful machines, which he called them smart and useless. I tell him, you are basically an artist. He say, no, I’m a collector of junk because when he goes into the street, his wife is going like 10 meters behind them because she’s embarrassed.
[00:21:11] Because every time you see a piece of an old bicycle or some old machine or some device, you will immediately collect it. And then after few months you will see it in one of his works. Yeah. In installations, he built clock from them. Then perse of bicycles, he wanted to create a clock which really used only bicycle parts.
[00:21:37] And he was able to do it and he used 10 bicycles. And when he’s grand son. So the contraption, when he saw the installation, he say, Hey, here are the bicycle I lost because he needed that. He was missing a piece of the pair of bicycle. So he came in the evening and took the bicycle off his grandson and put it in the machine.
[00:22:00] Nir Hindi: [00:22:00] I saw him also in the last event of Kinernet, which we’ll talk in a second. Yossi, before we continue, let’s take a short break and we’ll be back in a second.
[00:22:19] Thank you again for coming back. Yossi, you mentioned in your previous section, you mentioned the need for talent and how you actually understood that now it’s not about that. Go with them, but we need something more. It’s about the product that speak to the hearts of the people and I think it’s a beautiful way to describe how a good product can actually work. And one of the things that you are doing is that you are actually a frequent visitor in art and design exhibitions. And I wonder why actually bother and take the time and go see those exhibition. You are a very busy person, but you still do it on a regular basis.
[00:22:56] Yossi Vardi: [00:22:56] Okay. Once as I told you, I spent about three years trying to understand user experience. And I came totally fascinated and consumed by the topic. You know, whenever I look on something, I ask myself why it works, why it doesn’t work, how it relates to the, how it reads through all the layers, into the art of the number of principles that you can identify.
[00:23:25] I will give only one example in order to consume too much time. But for instance, if you are threading into your product, something to do with social aspect, the social network is the ability to share experience with other people, et cetera. It will be easier to reach to the hearts of the user. within parenthesis, you know, sharing slash collaborating are very important in reaching user experience. These one of the main, the main drivers. Okay. Now, in all that to say, I got very fascinated with creative people and I’m, I’m not creative. You know, I can be maybe empowering them or, or associate myself with them, et cetera, but I enjoy not only see what they do, but also as much as I can to give them exposures.
[00:24:20] And I found that going to do this kind of exhibitions, give you a very good insight to what’s going on. Now, when you talk about art, I’m not talking about going to a exhibition of Van Gogh in a big museum. I’m talking about looking at all these young people, what they are doing, what are they trying to do?
[00:24:47]I would usually like to see on a three dimensional thing, not in paintings necessarily or video, but on real things. And you have people which are creating wonderful, wonderful things in that respect my favorite if you would have asked me, what is your favorite place to go is of course burning man, you know, where you see.
[00:25:14] Collection of art, which defy imagination, which the defy anything you think. So I, in recent years I used to go there every year. Not for the sex, not for the drugs, but for the arts, um, which I had the talk with her. She told me all of them are saying that I’m going for the arts. So
[00:25:43] Nir Hindi: [00:25:43] So next time you are in . Next time you are in New York. I want to recommend you to visit the ITP in NYU. Uh, it’s the interactive telecommunications program. And I often hear technology leaders say that they are looking for those creative people, et cetera.
[00:25:58] And then when I visited the exhibition, asked myself, where are all the recuriters, how they don’t come over here to see what those people are doing with engineering and technology.
[00:26:07] I’m interested to know you, obviously now you’re doing it for quite a few years meeting and getting involved with creatives, artists, and also a lot of entrepreneurs.
[00:26:15] And I wonder, do you see similarities between entrepreneurs and artists?
[00:26:21] Yossi Vardi: [00:26:21] An artist can be entrepreneur or he came out to be, can be not an entrepreneur. You know, you see some. Some artists to know how to take their art and how to expose it and how to create an internet. And these are more entrepreneurial in their nature and you’ll see artists reach out more to themselves and it take more time to discover them if at all, et cetera.
[00:26:46] So I don’t think that an artist have to be an entrepreneur. But it wouldn’t harm him. If he is an entreprenuer.
[00:26:54] Nir Hindi: [00:26:54] Where do you see the similarity? I would say,
[00:26:58] Yossi Vardi: [00:26:58] if you talk about a real entrepreneur, which car was his own product, you know, and he’s creative. If the common denominator is creativity, to the extent that the entrepreneur is a creative entrepreneurial, no, which mean that is not joining somebody because when you look on startups, you will see the usually two or three people.
[00:27:18] One of them is the creative guy and another guy is the business guy and another guy can be the tech guy. So between creative entrepreneurs and artist, I see lots of commonalities, but not every entrepreneur is creative and not every artist is an entrepreneur in the sense of an entrepreneur, the general sense of entreprenuers.
[00:27:40]Nir Hindi: [00:27:40] Now that we are talking, I have you mentioned in your talk, you spoke about this internal motivation that those talented individuals have, and you said it, it’s not necessarily about motivated by money and often see it also with entrepreneurs that is not necessarily the money. It’s something more than that.
[00:27:59] And I want to hear your take on that one. What do you think?
[00:28:01] Yossi Vardi: [00:28:01] Yeah. Yeah, you are right. What you are, you are, what you are pointing is to the importance of passion, that driver. What’s drive entrepreneurs and what drive artist and what ride many other people, you know, people can be driven by number of things. The most effective one for my experience is.
[00:28:21] If the person is passionate, you know, if you have an internal need to go and do the thing, because if he, if he’s passionate in that will be able to overcome difficulties and will be more, more stubborn on sticking to the topic, et cetera. So in this sense, artists and artists, usually we are passionate about their art.
[00:28:40] They are, the benefit they get again is not the financial rewards, but the appreciation to what they accomplished to their work. You will see today at the time that the Corona is closing many art Institute, that for instance, performing art, they want to perform, you know, not only to make money, but they have the need to have an outlet to there to various talents.
[00:29:09] So I think passion is one of the common. The common denominators to the two of them.
[00:29:15] Nir Hindi: [00:29:15] So I want to thank you to the next day kind of thing that interests me is that the education system and the job environment kind of designed in a way that separate disciplines, either you are an artist, either you are a physicists mathematician, musician, and we always have this separation left or right.
[00:29:33] What do you think about separation of disciplines? How it’s hurts creativity does it, why we are doing it?
[00:29:39] Yossi Vardi: [00:29:39] We are doing it because we are geared to think in boxes and to think in a hierarchy, so the reason is reason of convenience. Now, of course, when you put borders and you put silos, you reduce the capabilities. If you have what we call Renaissance people, people which are dealing with many disciplines, you can reach much better results, but it’s much more difficult to manage it. And to take care of it.
[00:30:10] So I, I think by the way that I mentioned the importance of talent, and I mentioned the importance of passion and now I’m going to mention the importance of the third property, which I think is very variable important. And this is curiosity. I think curiosity, is crticial and curiosity is the tool to break the silos.
[00:30:36] You’ll see if you are curious, you ignore the borders. You know, if you are a software engineer, but you are curious, now you will branch out to try and study other things. So I think curiosity is one of the most important blessing, and I think you can educate young people to be curious by exposing them to a big variety of things.
[00:31:00] Technology, art, geography, whatever you know?
[00:31:04] Nir Hindi: [00:31:04] Yossi do you think we can also ignite curiosity. Now
[00:31:07] Yossi Vardi: [00:31:07] that’s a very good question. I think you built it, you built it through, through your, your childhood.
[00:31:13] Nir Hindi: [00:31:13] I think it’s common also is kind of an internal motivation kind of, you know, not getting stuck to what you are used to.
[00:31:19] Yossi Vardi: [00:31:19] I think it has to do with the environment that you ever told me. If you have an enriching environment, you’ll get paints. You will be interested a little bit in drawing. You get the books, you will be interested in general knowledge, you will get the cutes of chemistry. Will you always be interested in chemistry?
[00:31:39] Will you get to keep the yo you will be interested. Yeah, this is by the way, why I think that after school education, you know, all these kinds of special subjects is very, very important. You have to expose your kids to as many topics and variety, variety of stimuli.
[00:32:02] Nir Hindi: [00:32:02] Yeah. I mean, you know, it’s interesting because again, um, both Marissa Mayer whom you know, personally James Dyson on Bran Fran, all of them successful tech entrepreneurs, all of them grew up in houses that actually merged disciplines.
[00:32:17] Either a mother and a artist and a father engineer, or the other way around. And they said that the first time that they realized there is a separation in discipline is that when they got to the education system. And when they got into the job market, basically, people said “no”, and for me, in a way I see business leaders is kind of, if I would say the parents of their employees.
[00:32:38] And I wonder how we can or how they can, those business leaders that actually create opportunities to bridge disciplines, not only getting stuck into those silos in order what we call in cliches. You just mentioned thinking in the box, how to think outside the box. Why do you think business?
[00:32:56] Yossi Vardi: [00:32:56] I think, first of all, is the personality of the business leader and the challenges.
[00:33:01] He’s giving to his
[00:33:04] Nir Hindi: [00:33:04] employees.
[00:33:05] Yossi Vardi: [00:33:05] Yeah. You’ll know if the business leader is curious and he is stimulated that, or if he’s not curious and understands the need then he is able to import it. It can, it can happen. but it’s, it’s, I think it varies from one individual to the other. I don’t think you can generalize.
[00:33:25]Nir Hindi: [00:33:25] I always say that only creative and innovative people building creative and innovative companies, it’s never about the organization. It’s individuals that influence other individuals that influence other individuals that at the end create ecosystems,
[00:33:39] Yossi Vardi: [00:33:39] I would like to suggest a small, small change in your definition.
[00:33:44] It can be creative and innovative people but it can be also people who are not creative and not innovative but they understand that needs and are empowering creative and innovative people, you know, wait, if people, as, as leaders, you know, in their organization,
[00:34:00] Nir Hindi: [00:34:00] Totally for me that someone understands that for me, it’s already, for me, you’re saying you are a creative person with everything that you are doing, even though you don’t define yourself.
[00:34:09] Yossi Vardi: [00:34:09] But you are right. You know, if you look at the big, the big traditional old, all-time Meccas’ of design, you know, General electric or general motors or a Xerox park. Or bell labs. You always found there at the helms somebody who had the vision and empower the people, you know, another thing, which is very interesting.
[00:34:33] Why all these great places disappeared? I don’t know. I didn’t think about it until this minute. I think that’s quite a bit of, it was because they were creative and innovative, but they didn’t adapt to the fact that 100 million guys, young guys can come and do innovation. You know, the environment change, you know, the internet democratized innovation.If you wanted to do innovation, you had to go to work in one of these companies or to go to DARPA or NASA or the NIH or a big, big, organizations and then, you know, people were right. Like the, uh, guys, I found it, you know, they, when we sold the company, we sold it with 66 people, we sold it to AOL at the same week rolls Royce, which was 120 years company with 20,000 employees sold to Volkswagen for the same amount of money we got for 66 people from AOL with no revenue whatsoever. So I think maybe these big organizations, which were really amazing innovators didn’t adapt themselves fast enough to the changing landscape.
[00:35:57] Nir Hindi: [00:35:57] I asked you before about what business leaders can do to inspire their team, to bridge disciplines in a way you took it upon yourself or to create your own environment. And in 2003, you funded Kinnernet, which is the title, call it the imagination festival. Can you elaborate on that? Tell us a bit about the Kinnernet gathering around that’s happening now, all around the world.
[00:36:22] Yossi Vardi: [00:36:22] Yeah. I am now involved with number of events, which brings together startup people to meet among themselves and also to meet large companies and investors.
[00:36:34] This is for me. I taught non for profit for revenue activity. And last year, 2019, I’ve done 42 events all around the world just to empower creative and innovative people. And I really enjoyed it. It became very important component of my life. And what I do. I create not, no judging mental environment where people can meet with each other.
[00:37:06] There is only one requirement. And there are two requirements. One is that they will treat each other nicely and the other one that everybody has to participate and the events are from 120 people per event to. 22,000 people, very event. And, uh, I put emphasize on inviting creative people and every time I create an event, usually the end of the event, somebody come and say that he wants to create also an event. And I tell him, go and create an event, or you can copy the format. And that is, and we have a last year, we had an event in Portugal, in Spain, in France, in Italy, in Greece, in the Nordic countries, in, in the, uh, in the Latin America, in, uh, Israel in Singapore in China, you name it.
[00:38:03] And I enjoy seeing all these young people coming with their great ideas and finding likeminded people with whom they can share the experience and to whom they can show the wonderful thing that I’m doing.
[00:38:16]Nir Hindi: [00:38:16] recently participate in the online format, obviously due to the situation and when I saw those example, on the one hand, in those gathering, you have a mix of backgrounds, artists, many of my artist, friends, including our common friendly, Liat Segal that we also had the podcast with her and and Eran Hadas artist friends participate together with technologies and entrepreneurs.
[00:38:39] And on the other hand, when people living, you know, on the day to day in the job market, I see this separation and still people perceive artist, you know, sometimes as lazy and hard to control and dreamers. And I feel that it’s kind of the right moment to have more and more common grounds between business and tech companies throughout this,
[00:39:02] Yossi Vardi: [00:39:02] I think, I think basically begin to appreciate it evolution. You know, you’ll see how fast Steve jobs was able to carry Apple. Just almost, just because of the element of being very keen about design. You know, I think this is a great example. Or even if you talk about Amazon, you know, Amazon success. It’s not, I don’t think it’s because of their storage houses in order to, because of the experience they are giving on their site, when you want to go and all the people maybe don’t pay attention, but the discovery mechanism to by which you can see other relevant products, the, the contribution of the community by the reviews, et cetera, that a lot of lots and lots and lots of very clever things, which if you don’t have a very experienced eye, you even don’t pay attention to the existence that I have to tell you another thing you remember, we said that you cannot reduce user experience. Well algorithm. It’s like, I will show you orchid flower and I will tell you, please explain to me, first of all, I will ask you all kick flower.
[00:40:21] It’s a beautiful flower. And you will say probably yes and now I will tell you, okay. Go and explain to me what make it beautiful. You cannot explain it, but when you look on it, you know, it’s beautiful. Yeah.
[00:40:34] Nir Hindi: [00:40:34] So, you know, you mentioned before the difference between artistic creativity and technological creativity. You want to refer to it?
[00:40:42] Yossi Vardi: [00:40:42] the artistic creativity is about that from your brain or your heart or the combination of them, you go and create something, which was never before. you don’t know who said it Michelangelo or Leonardo Da vinci. One of the two of them say that’s when they probably Michelangelo.
[00:41:02] When he’s standing on a front of a block of marble, he knows that there is a beautiful statue within it, which want to get out, you know, and he just tells me to get out by pealing the access material, but he’s the only one who can see this beautiful statue. In technology. It’s a different thing. that the thing is there that technology is there.
[00:41:26]Even if you invent, you invent something which 20 other people may invent in the same time, totally separately, thing which will do the same thing. So you can come with a very clever idea, but it’s not that you are the only one who can come with this collaborate. The other people will be eventually, will be able to come also.
[00:41:48] Nir Hindi: [00:41:48] So that’s why I think and correct me if I’m wrong. You mentioned also in the past that in order to be involved in the internet and startup world, you don’t have to be a computer person. You can be an artist, a storyteller, a musician, or content creator.
[00:42:03] Yossi Vardi: [00:42:03] Yeah. That you need today to create a compelling product.
[00:42:08] You need much more than just software engineers.
[00:42:11] Nir Hindi: [00:42:11] And what do you think about the business education,
[00:42:13] Yossi Vardi: [00:42:13] business education? You mean like MBAs, et cetera? I, uh, I think that they are good for, or at least old curricula be, I guess that in recent years they can with new, I hope for them that they can discipline them as it used to be like until 10 years ago, it was mainly good for real estate projects where you have cashflow that you can forecast, et cetera today, the.
[00:42:44] Their needs are different. I guess, again, I didn’t look into it, but I guess they must adopted their curriculum to things which are more digital, more with user experience. The only problem I think there is a limit to what you can teach, especially in a, but probably you can teach, you can teach even design and art.
[00:43:09] So if you can design, teach design and art. Why wouldn’t you be able to design that user experience?
[00:43:18] Nir Hindi: [00:43:18] Yeah, I think for me, the most important thing is that how you actually teach people to speak to others. People have, if it’s even possible. So I have a interesting, if you were to design or to build an entrepreneurship school or kind of training, what will you want your students to learn?
[00:43:36] you mentioned passion you mentioned experience. I’m interested to know if you will have your own entrepreneurship school, what students will learn over there.
[00:43:45]Yossi Vardi: [00:43:45] the most important thing is to bring talented people together and let them have hands on experience.
[00:43:53] So if I would have created a entrepreneurship school, I guess that I would give them lots of opportunities to try and to develop companies or concepts or products, et cetera, more like a hands on hackathons or, or unconferences, these sort of things, or meet ups than just listening to lectures. But I think listening to lectures is also important because it gives you thought for a thoughtful thinking, but since I’m not considering it, I don’t think that I represent any threat to the existing ecosystem of business schools.
[00:44:35] Nir Hindi: [00:44:35] So before we finish Yossi. I have two questions.
[00:44:38] Yossi Vardi: [00:44:38] I’ll tell you something. I hope I’m not pissing off anybody out of the foreign entrepreneur.
[00:44:44] So created these instant messaging products, which I. So you about two never finished high school, not, they didn’t finish business school. They didn’t finish high school. And yet they were able to come with one of the most popular products in the world. Yeah.
[00:45:00] Nir Hindi: [00:45:00] I think we see it more and more that as you said, the internet democratized innovation.
[00:45:06] Yossi Vardi: [00:45:06] Yeah.
[00:45:06] Nir Hindi: [00:45:06] So Yossi, before we finish, I kind of have two questions in one way is a, is a story that, that was, I liked that you always say, um, obviously before the Corona is, you mentioned you travel all over the world. You are the chairman of the four years from now in Barcelona, the DLD guide your regular day to day.
[00:45:26] And when we go the Corona you became active online, you’re running the DLD sync with your partners. And last month, when I attended the virtual conference of Kinnernet it, you were I think the last one to leave in today, you are already 78,
[00:45:42] Yossi Vardi: [00:45:42] correct? Next month.
[00:45:44] Nir Hindi: [00:45:44] First of all, congratulations,
[00:45:46] Yossi Vardi: [00:45:46] actually less than next month.
[00:45:48] Three weeks.
[00:45:49] Nir Hindi: [00:45:49] Okay. I’m asking myself, Yossi. Where is all this energy coming from? How do you find the power to travel all around the world? Meet so many people get involved with all the conferences and you are always there. Y’all are not the one that come, just open the conference and go, y’all always there.
[00:46:07] It’s it’s amazing.
[00:46:09] Yossi Vardi: [00:46:09] What can I tell you? I think it’s mainly, you know, I thought that when they will close flying, I will be miserable because last year I was in 24 different countries and I found that it didn’t affect me at all. You know, that I cannot travel. I think the only logical explanation is the FOMO.
[00:46:30] That fear of missing out since nothing is happening. I don’t have fear of missing out. So I don’t care that they don’t, that I don’t travel. And also, I think that age is definitely a biological phenomenon, but it’s also a mental phenomenon. The question is what you want to do with your life.
[00:46:49] And as long as you are motivated, then you are curious, as I told you are passionate that I don’t think that the age affected. At all, unless you have some physical constraints and if you don’t have them, then you can go on
[00:47:04] Nir Hindi: [00:47:04] anywhere and everywhere. Yossi. One last question.
[00:47:08] Yossi Vardi: [00:47:08] I want to tell you that I’m not so old because I’m now much more closer to 60 then to 50 years old.
[00:47:24] Nir Hindi: [00:47:24] I don’t know. Well, you can say how you can say that you’re not creative. I think you can be easily, can be a comedian. And which leads me to my last question. why don’t you wear ties?
[00:47:34] Yossi Vardi: [00:47:34] Why don’t I wear ties? Because ties stopped the flow of a lot into the brain and right. The brain from oxygen. So I cannot understand why people wear ties, you know, because it just puts pressure on your brain. Not a good idea
[00:47:53] Nir Hindi: [00:47:53] Yossi such an insightful, funny and knowledgeable conversation for me. I hope you enjoyed as well. Last comments, thoughts, tips you want to give to our listeners?
[00:48:05] Yossi Vardi: [00:48:05] Maybe the tip I used to give it all the time, but now it became much more appropriate.
[00:48:11] And this is, there was a guy British guy by the name of Sir Freddy Laker in rented cheap flights. And the one was once was asked by a young entrepreneur, what is the advice you can give to young entrepreneur? He said, follow your hunches, follow your belly, go and conquer the world, but never, ever give personal guarantees.
[00:48:35] So this is the advice I can give.
[00:48:39] Nir Hindi: [00:48:39] Thank you very, very much for your time. I, everyone that wants to listen to you. So go check him on the DLD sync is always active, leading very interesting conversation. Check the four years from now at conferences and when we will be back physically, I highly recommend you’ll get the chance to see him on stage.
[00:48:58] Yossi. Thank you very, very much.
[00:49:00] Yossi Vardi: [00:49:00] Thank you. Bye.