ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 64

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Tech giants from Google to Oracle condemn ‘horrific’ Hamas attack, pledge Israel aid

US firm Jefferies to donate $13m to 10 charities providing humanitarian aid to terror victims; General Catalyst will donate $250,000 and Oracle $1m to support humanitarian relief

Sharon Wrobel is a tech reporter for The Times of Israel.

Tel Aviv's financial business district skyline, June 2022. (Elijah Lovkoff via iStock by Getty Images)
Tel Aviv's financial business district skyline, June 2022. (Elijah Lovkoff via iStock by Getty Images)

Global tech leaders from Google to Microsoft pledge their support for Israel following the Hamas terror group’s brutal assault, and venture capital firms are raising humanitarian aid funds as many of the 300,000 reservists the country has called up in recent days are among their local employees.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella wrote on the X messaging platform on Wednesday that he was “heartbroken by the horrific terrorist attacks on Israel and the escalating conflict,” which has killed more than 1,200 civilians and wounded thousands more.

In a letter to employees, the US tech giant condemned the “hatred and brutality” of terrorist attacks in Israel by the Hamas terrorist organization.

“We have nearly 3,000 employees in Israel directly impacted,” Microsoft wrote in the letter. “We have Jewish employees around the world who are also experiencing grief, fear and anxiety as hatred and vitriol increase.”

Microsoft currently operates development centers in Haifa, Tel Aviv and Nazareth with most employees working on projects including cybersecurity, artificial intelligence technologies, big data and healthcare, as well as sales and marketing. In 2021, Microsoft embarked on plans to open five additional sites in Israel and more than double its R&D workforce in the country by 2025.

The company opened a local branch in Israel in 1989, and established its first R&D center in Israel, its first outside the US, in 1991.

Microsoft’s campus in Herzliya, Israel, inaugurated in Nov. 2020 (Amit Geron)

Google CEO Sundar Pichai on Tuesday expressed that he was “deeply saddened by the terrorist attacks in Israel (…) and the escalating conflict underway.”

“Google has two offices and over 2,000 employees in Israel. It’s unimaginable what they’re experiencing,” said Pichai. “We have now made contact with all of our local employees, and will continue supporting them.”

“We are also working to provide reliable, accurate information to people through our products, as well as sharing the cyber activity that our experts are seeing,” he added.

Pichai said the search giant is committed to supporting humanitarian and relief organizations on the ground.

Google has had R&D activity in Israel since 2005, mainly in Haifa and Tel Aviv, with teams tackling machine learning, artificial intelligence, natural language processing, cloud networking and machine perception challenges.

Multinational giants like Google, Microsoft and Facebook, Intel and Nvidia have in recent years all been setting up or expanding their operations in Israel – cementing the country’s position as silicon workhorse alongside its status as Startup Nation.

The Israeli high-tech industry is contributing 18% to local GDP, versus less than 10% in the US, and about 6% in the European Union. About 14% of all employees work in the high-tech sector and in tech jobs in other sectors. The Israeli economy relies on high-tech products and exports, which make up about 50% of total exports, as well as high-tech taxes.

The local tech sector also relies heavily on foreign capital, largely American, with Israeli high-tech startups and companies raising funds from venture capital and private equity funds, as well as private investors.

Joining a wave of funding and donations effort, US financial services firm Jefferies announced that it will donate $13 million to 10 charities that provide critical humanitarian aid to those impacted by the violence and terror in Israel. Most of the funds were raised from proceeds of global trading commissions and from Jefferies’ more than 5,500 employees. Jefferies as a firm said it will donate $1 million directly. An additional $4.4 million was raised from other investors and clients, including Mike Bloomberg.

“We are devastated by the violence and terror that has affected families and communities in Israel,” said Jefferies CEO Rich Handler. “Charities working to provide aid and services to those wounded, traumatized or displaced will receive our support.”

Among the charities and organizations that will be receiving the support are first responders United Hatzalah and Magen David Adom, as well as large hospitals including the Barzilai Medical Center in the southern city of Ashkelon and Soroka Medical Center in Beersheva, where hundreds of injured Israeli civilians are being treated during the Hamas assault.

Jefferies has been doing business in Israel for over 25 years and built a team of 10 Israel-focused employees over the past six years. They opened an office in 2023 and the Israel team shares time between the Israel, New York and London.

A member of Magen David Adom emergency medical services checks cars shot at a day earlier by Gazan terrorists near Sderot on October 8, 2023. (Menahem KAHANA / AFP)

Among US venture capital firms, General Catalyst and Insight Partners pledged to donate funds for humanitarian aid work in the wake of attacks on Israel. General Catalyst said it pledged an initial $250,000 to support humanitarian efforts on the ground.

“The world witnessed an unprecedented and ruthless attack on Israel and its people,” General Catalyst said in a statement. “We encourage others in the international venture community to stand with us in our resolve to support Israel, and join us in pledging funds for continuing humanitarian funds.”

“We have also been in contact with our portfolio companies and partners who are based in Israel, and are committed to doing everything possible to support and assist them at this critical time,” the VC fund added.

General Catalyst has investments in Israeli firms including fintech outfit Rapyd, Aidoc, a maker of AI-based software, gaming startup Superplay and cybersecurity startup Apiiro.

US tech giant Oracle, which has been active in Israel for more than 20 years, announced earlier this week a donation of $1 million to Magen David Adom. In addition, Oracle launched a global fundraising campaign for Magen David Adom among its150,000 employees around the world and has pledged to double the raised funds. For now, Oracle’s employees have raised more than $600,000.

Oracle has 380 employees in Israel at two R&D sites, Petach-Tikva and in Beersheva, working on cutting-edge technologies including cloud, AI and other applications.

In October 2021, Oracle run by Israeli born CEO Safra Katz built an underground data center in Jerusalem at a cost of $200 million, which functions as a regional cloud provider for Israeli clients.

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