Israeli Tech Exits Wow the World in 2021

YERUSHALAYIM -

Whatever else was going on in the pandemic-battered economy this past year, the high tech sector boomed like never before.

Israeli tech firm exits broke all previous records, soaring 520 percent in 2021 to an unprecedented $81.2 billion in value, up from $15.4 billion in 2020, according to The Times of Israel quoting an annual report by consultants PwC Israel released on Wednesday.

Exits are defined as merger and acquisition deals or initial public offerings (IPO) of shares.

There were 171 such deals so far this year, compared to 60 last year, including 99 acquisitions totaling $11.5 billion in value, and 72 IPOs (including SPAC — special purpose acquisition companies — mergers), 45 of which were done on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, according to the report.

The numbers “are tremendous,” exclaimed Yaron Weizenbluth, partner and head of the high-tech cluster at PwC Israel.

“Last year was the end of the previous decade and it was the best year on record [for the tech sector]. It was the year of COVID-19, and we started seeing this upward trend in the later quarters of 2020 [that pointed to a strong 2021]. We were optimistic, but to be honest, we couldn’t have expected 2021 to be so unbelievable.”

Weizenbluth attributed the extraordinary tech numbers not only to the sector’s ability to rapidly adapt to the pandemic situation, but the “deeper story,” he said, was the new “Israeli business culture” and the “new Israeli entrepreneur” who wants to build a strong company and take it public, rather than quickly develop and sell technology.

Among the companies that led the boom: advertising technology firm ironSource that merged with U.S. SPAC Thoma Bravo Advantage in a deal that valued ironSource at $11 billion; cybersecurity company SentinelOne, which completed its IPO on the NYSE in June at a value of $9 billion.