Tal Jacobson, SimilarWeb

Tal Jacobson

Part of the
Online Revolution

Editors’ Note

Prior to assuming his current post, Tal Jacobson was Co-Founder, Marketing & Business Development at Monotizer. Before this, he was VP Business at McCann Erickson, and earlier, CEO, Marketing and Business at Watchitoo, Director Business Development at AOL, and VP Marketing & Business Development at Macromedia.

Company Brief

SimilarWeb (similarweb.com) is obsessed with helping people and businesses discover what the Web has to offer. Everyday a vast amount of new information is added to the Internet. This information-overload forces Internet users to sift through search engine results with hopes of finding relevant information. SimilarWeb, the global leader in finding and interpreting online information, has created an informative, yet simple way for Internet users to experience the very best that the Web has to offer.

Tel Aviv is known as a hub for entrepreneurship and innovation. What makes this so much a part of the culture of Tel Aviv, and would you highlight how important entrepreneurship is to the future of the city?

Israel is the start-up nation and Tel Aviv its capital. I see Israel as a start-up in and of itself – after all, it is a young and dynamic venture, which is still trying to define itself. Tel Aviv takes that venture to the extreme and provides the optimal conditions to grow entrepreneurs, from entrepreneur clubs around the city to venture capital meet-ups and lectures.

What would you tell entrepreneurs about the opportunities that exist in Tel Aviv?

Israelis love to share their work, which makes it a perfect dynamic among start-ups that want to find synergies in their early stage phase.

What impact has this entrepreneurial culture had on Tel Aviv?

Entrepreneurship in Tel Aviv has become so strong that it attracts business tourism year-round, and sustains a whole ecosystem. In our offices, we are constantly hosting entrepreneurs from around the world that want to learn more about what we do and how we do it.

Would you highlight your career and the most important areas that you look for when joining a company?

In Israel, most people learn the leadership skills and meaning of commitment that are essential in business at an early age, mainly because of the army. As a result, young Israelis experience academic education later in their lives and start their careers in their mid-20s. This is a very unique set-up where people gain leadership, survival, and education skills before choosing or committing to a specific academic or career path.

By nature, Israelis are not afraid to take risks. There is a shared understanding and belief that failure is needed for growth. While these values are universally learned and shared, they stem from our DNA. There is no such thing as a “typical Israeli.” We live in an extremely diverse country with a cocktail of cultures, nationalities, religions, and beliefs. The high-tech industry reaps the benefits of this diversity every day through the creativity it triggers. That is necessary for any business, and in particular for new companies that want to disrupt a global market with new ideas that haven’t been tried or tested.

You recently joined SimilarWeb. What excited you about this opportunity?

I’ve been a part of the online revolution for the past 16 years, from big companies like Macromedia (Adobe), ICQ (AOL), and McCann Erickson to start-ups, some of which I’ve built and some that I’ve joined to help grow. SimilarWeb has been the most extreme ride yet. I find that it doesn’t matter if it’s a big company or a small start-up; if people are creative and humble enough to reinvent anything at any time, companies will continue to grow.

What do you see as the future role of Tel Aviv in the global economy?

In my opinion, the message that Tel Aviv sends to everyone is the same: look for growth and accept failure. This is as relevant to a global investor as it is to an ambitious graduate looking for a professional challenge.•