New Israeli PM brings new energy but also has new challenges

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New Israeli PM brings new energy but also has new challenges

Israel’s first tech prime minister, Naftali Bennett, has come a long way. But his path ahead may well be blocked

Zev Chafets

Most Israeli premiers arrive from the public sector or the military. Naftali Bennett is the first to enter politics from the world of tech. Fresh out of the army in 1999, he cofounded anti-fraud company Cyota, which was bought out by security company RSA in 2005 for $145m. Eight years later, as an investor and CEO of Soluto, he led another exit; this one valued at $100m.  

Those may sound like small numbers today, but that was before Israel was dubbed the “start-up nation”. Had he stayed in business, some in Israel’s tech sector today believe he’d be one the richest Israelis.

He was still celebrating his new victory when news came that Payoneer, an Israeli company in which Bennett was an early investor, is merging with an American SPAC and will be listed on Nasdaq with a $3.2bn (R44bn) valuation. Forbes Israel estimates that Bennett’s share will reap $5m (R69m). Local insiders say it could be much higher. ..

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