Yossi Vardi

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Yossi Vardi in 2005

Joseph (Yossi) Vardi (Hebrew: יוסי ורדי‎), born in 1942, is one of Israel's early tech entrepreneurs. For 40 years he founded and helped build over 50 tech companies in diverse areas of software, energy, Internet, mobile, electro-optics, clean water and others.


[edit] Life and Work

[edit] Entrepreneurship

Vardi started his entrepreneurial career at the age of 26, in 1969, when he co-founded and was the first CEO of Tekem, one of the very first software houses in Israel (which became the largest software company at the time, was sold to Tadiran, went public and now is part of Ness). Through the years he also co-founded Alon oil company, ITL (International Laser Technologies, went public), Granite Hacarmel (went public) and others. In 1996 he became the founding investor of Mirabilis (company) - the creator of ICQ, which is the first Internet-wide Instant messaging. Since then he focused on early stage internet and mobile start ups. Among the companies he invested in, or helped to build are fring, Answers.com (went public), Gteko (sold to Microsoft), Airlink (sold to Sierra Wireless), Tivella (sold to Cisco), Scopus (went public), CTI2 (sold to Audiocodes), speedbit, Foxytunes (sold to yahoo), Tucows (went public), and Starnet (sold to IAC/InterActiveCorp). He serves on the advisory board of Amdocs.

[edit] Cultural Impact

Mirabilis, which practically had no revenues, was sold to AOL just 19 months after it released its product for over 400 million dollars. The sale inspired a whole generation of young Israelis, creating a wave of start ups. In recent years Vardi is actively engaged in founding and helping young internet companies.

[edit] Government career

Yossi Vardi in 2007.

Natural Resources. Vardi had a long civil service career serving as Director General of the Ministry of Development (at the age of 27), and of the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure. The Ministry of Development was in charge of the natural resources sector, the electric energy sector, water desalination technologies, research and regulation of oil explorations, the desert research institute, the geologic and the geophysics institutes and others. He served as the chairman of Israel Chemicals (at the age of 28), of Mifaley Tovala, of Harsit and Hol Zach, and as a member of the boards of Israel Electric Corporation, Dead Sea Works, Dead Sea Bromine, Dead Sea Periclase, Haifa Chemicals, Chemicals and Phosphates, and others. He also chaired the Oil Explorations Concessions Council and Fertilizers Development Council.

Investment encouragement, overseas investors. He then was sent to the u.s to serve as the Director of the Investment Authority in North-America, and Consul For Economic Affairs of the State of Israel in New York. at that capaicty he took part in the creation of The Bi-national Industrial Research and Development Fund (BIRD-F).He aslso acted as an advisor to the Israeli mission to the U.N.

Energy.Upon returning to Israel he served as the first Director General of the Ministry of Energy. The Ministry was in charge of the sector, including oil purchasing policy and regulation, oil explorations, electric generation, alternative energy and other. Vardi also chaired the Israel National Oil Company, and was member of the board of the Oil Refineries Ltd. During his tenure Israel discovered and developed oil fields in the Gulf of Suez.

[edit] Other Private Sector Activities

After retiring from the civil service, in addition to his own enterpreneurial activities, vardi served on the boards of Maariv, Elite, Scitex, Bezeq, Arkia, Elisra, Hamashbir Hamerkazi and others, and assisted Ormat Technologies to identify and develop its geothermal activity.

[edit] Public Sector Activities

After leaving the government Vardi continued to be involved in the public sector. He is the Co-Chair of the European Union - Israel Strategic Business Dialogue. He chaired number of government-appointed commissions and committees, among them the Public Commission for the Regulation of the Electricity Sector, the Public Commission on Raising Venture Capital in the Stock Exchange and others. He also took part in the formation of Yozma. He served on the Advisory Council of the Bank of Israel, and on the board of directors of the Development Corporation for Israel (State of Israel Bonds). He serves on the board of governors of Weizmann Institute. He was the chairman of the Jerusalem Foundation, was member of the council and the executive committee of the Open University of Israel and the board of trustees of the Hebrew University.

[edit] The Peace Process

In his capacity as the Director General of the ministry of energy Vardi led the negotiations in regards to the oil part in the peace agreement with Egypt. While in the private sector Vardi was asked to serve as special advisor to the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Finance, for regional coopration, and to head the economic negotiations with Jordan. He also participated in the multi lateral talks with the Palestinians, and served on the Israeli delegation to the Wye Plantation talks with the Syrians.

[edit] International Activities

He acted as an advisor to the World Bank and the United Nations Development Program on issues of energy policy and strategy in the developing world. He is a member of the World Economic Forum, serves as an advisor on Middle-Eastern economic affairs to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. on the Research Visionary Board of Motorola, and on the Future Trends Forum of The Bankinter Foundation of Innovation. He served on the advisory board of 3i, and was advisor to the CEOs of AOL, Amazon.com, Allied-signal, Siemens-Albis and others.

[edit] Education

A graduate of the Technion, Israeli institute of Technology, Dr. Vardi earned his D. Sc. (thesis received the Kennedy-Leigh award), and M.Sc (dissertation with distinction) in Operation Research, and B.Sc. in Industrial Management Engineering (summa cum laude). He published various scientific papers on energy and operation research.

[edit] Awards, Recognitions

Vardi twice received the Prime Minister award for life achievements in the high tech area, The Industry Award, for his contribution to the development Israel's industry, the Entrepreneur Of the Year and the Hugo Ramniceanu prize for Economics from Tel Aviv university, the CEO!’s Entrepreneurs Hall of Fame from the Collegiate Entrepreneurs' Organization, a Certificate of Merit for the pioneering of the software industry and Information Technology from the Israel Chamber of System Analysts, was nominated as one of The Most Influential International Executives by The Industry Standard, was nominated by Ynet as one of the 200 Greatest Israelis of all time, and other awards. Vardi is a co-holder of a patent on instant messaging on telephones.

[edit] Personal life

He is married to Talma and the father of Arik, co-founder of ICQ, Oded and Dani.

[edit] Publications, works

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