Israel Should Give/invest $500,000 To Young Engineers to Make Aliya

Next week, the second Israel Tech Challenge will land in Israel. For the second time, Raphael Ouzan and team will bring the best and brightest computer Jewish computer science engineering students to Israel for a Birthright-style trip and hackathon to help our country.

The last few years of innovation has proven Marc Andreesen’s now famous statement that “software is eating the world.” Industry after industry is being disrupted by innovative software, transferring value from traditional industries to geeks and computer scientists, disrupting industries from banking (Lending Club) to cars ownership (Uber) to Lodging (airbnb). One brilliant entrepreneur, with nothing but a computer, ability to code and ambition can transfer trillions of dollars of economic benefit from older companies to those who control the software and marketplaces for those industries.

Ergo, software engineers and entrepreneurs are THE engine of economic development for any city, state or country. As the heat map below shows, part of what has fuelled Silicon Valley’s explosive economy in the last decade is that it has become a magnet for talented software engineers and entrepreneurs from all over the world and all over the United States. When the talented, brilliant and ambitious software engineers move from their states and countries to Silicon Valley, they create an ecosystem for economic creation and innovation that will suck the value and benefit out of other states and countries as the software they create disrupts industries the world over.

Israel needs some of that immigration magic. It is easier and more obvious for a Jewish student at MIT, Harvard or Stanford to go to Silicon Valley. Trust me, I grew up in the US and moved to Israel. Staying in the US is an easier decision. We, as a country, need to make it easier for the best and the brightest Jewish Engineers to come to israel. That will bring jobs to Israel and grow our economy.

As I wrote in the Humus Manifesto Part 1, we have a massive shortage of the right engineers in Israel. We have a need to bring brilliant engineers and scientists to Israel to create jobs and fill jobs that are the future of the 21st century economy and we cannot wait for the market to work. So, I have a very undemocratic proposal to make: We should offer $250,000 to every young Jewish software engineer to move to Israel. Make it $500,000. The Chief Scientist should lead this project and start at Harvard, Stanford and MIT. In fact, he can start by handing out checks at the end of the Israel Tech Tour next week.

The Math is simple: Assuming these brilliant engineers do nothing but code for 10 years, the income taxes on their salaries alone will pay back the down payment. The average engineer can be expected to earn at least 35,000 NIS per month over the next 10 years. Mas Hachnassa (income tax) will take 40% of that which is roughly 15,000 NIS. that is 15,000*12mos*10yrs. That is 1,800,000 NIS which is more than the $500,000 you would pay these great engineers to make Aliya and it does NOT include the economic value that the export of technology or services they create nor does it include the new jobs they would create.

This is a bargain. Importing brilliant software engineers will have a much bigger impact on the economy than helping Intel build a new fab or giving money to projects at big old tech companies in Israel as Elisha Yannai wants.

We are in a global war for talent and we need to win. We have a resource called American Jewry and we have a competitive standard of living in Tel Aviv to Palo Alto. Unfortunately, a lack of creativity and balls prevents the government and Chief Scientist from doing what they need to do. Time is not on our side. Let’s do something bold to build Israel’s role in the global economy for the next century.

[Originally published on 9th June 2014 by MIchael Eisenberg]