Today Yossi Vardi, the renowned Israeli VC who backed many well known companies, including ICQ, came to visit me at FON. Yossi is intelligent, creative, funny and has a natural understanding of the Internet.
One way to get to know Yossi is through his portfolio. Here´s a list of the companies he´s invested with and they include Ilcu, Foxytunes, Gteko, recently sold to Microsoft, Fixya, a very clever customer support web 2.0 site, AtlasCT, a competitor to Google Maps, and Fring, competitor to Gizmo Project or Truphone.
But while knowing Yossi through his companies, present and past yields a good understanding of his personality, everyone tells me that the best way to get to know him is attending Kinnernet, which I plan to do next March. A quick look at flickr pictures tagged Kinnernet told a wild story. Yossi Vardi was in Spain attending a Bankinter conference on innovation that suprisingly it is barely known in Spain.
As he was leaving my office very impressed with FON, he asked me why did I think that there were not many other FON like companies in Spain. My answer? Because they threw us Jews out of Spain in 1492. His reply? Maybe that explains why Israel invested $1.4bn in new start ups in 2005 and Spain $100M.
Indeed, while I think there´s more and more creativity in technology in Spain it is still incredible that a country with 8 times more people should have less than 8% of the total investment of VCs in Israel.
Follow Martin Varsavsky on Twitter: twitter.com/martinvars