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Amazon, Facebook join Tel Aviv's flourishing tech scene

Downtown Tel Aviv, where in 2013 technology seems

Downtown Tel Aviv, where in 2013 technology seems to be flourishing. (Credit: AP, 2004)

Forget the newest, largest cellphone display or Apple's latest hire, this week's most significant tech news may be the office plans publicized by two of the world's largest technology firms.

On successive days both Amazon and Facebook announced they were planting flags in Tel Aviv. Facebook will operate an office through its $100 million purchase of mobile analytics firm Onava. Meanwhile, Amazon said Tuesday it is opening an office in Tel Aviv to support the cloud computing and software development needs of the Middle East's growing technology hub.

Though most think of Israel as a hotbed of political and military unrest, Silicon Valley enthusiasts have long known Israel is a hotbed for startups. Everyone from Microsoft founder Bill Gates, to billionaire Warren Buffett and Google chairman Eric Schmidt have praised the tech scene in the tiny country, which is said to have the highest number of start-ups per capita of any nation in the world. And Google's best-known acquisition of the year was Waze, a mapping and traffic application founded in Israel.

But what's significant here, is that rather than importing Israeli technology into Silicon Valley, U.S. firms, evidently, are viewing Israel as so crucial an artery to the global tech network, that they are working to build permanent presences on its desert soil. Clearly, while Jerusalem is at the center of much of the nation's rich tradition and seemingly constant conflict, Tel Aviv, with its young, technically sophisticated populace, may be the key to its future.  

Tags: Tel Aviv , Amazon , Google , Facebook , startups , Silicon Valley , Israel , technology

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