Mobileye Is Just The Tip Of Intel’s Expanding Israeli Iceberg

Intel made headlines two years ago when it acquired Mobileye for over $15 billion, turning the Jerusalem-based company into the hub of its global driver-assistance and autonomous-vehicle operations. But as substantial as that acquisition was, it wasn’t the computer-chip giant’s first foray into the Israeli tech scene, and it won’t be its last.

In fact, as CTech reports, Intel has invested some $35 billion in Israel since it first arrived in the eastern Mediterranean enclave in 1974, less than half of which was spent on the Mobileye acquisition. And it’s not just Intel’s money that’s in Israel.

Just a couple of weeks ago, Intel’s board of directors named Bob Swan as its Chief Executive Officer, formalizing the temporary appointment it had made seven months prior. Swan is (regrettably) not Israeli, but with his appointment, the company named a raft of new deputies. Among them are Liz Cohen-Yerushalmi and Sagi Ben Moshe, Mobileye execs who have been elevated as vice president and corporate vice president, respectively, of the parent company – joining senior vice presidents Amir Faintuch, Amnon Shashua, and Allon Stabinsky.

Intel’s Israeli investments could soon pass the $40-billion mark

With their appointments, 13 percent of Intel’s vice presidents are now Israeli, which roughly represents the proportion of the company’s global human resources: out of a worldwide head-count of roughly 100,000, nearly 13,000 work in Israel, principally at the company’s five R&D centers across the country (of which just over a thousand work at Mobileye). Together they helped Intel export $4 billion from Israel last year and accounted for 13.5 percent of all the patents the company filed around the world in 2018 (up from 12 percent in the years prior). And those numbers only stand to grow even further with its latest investments.

The company is pouring nearly $12 billion into its manufacturing site in Kiryat Gat. The city in the southern part of the country is located roughly equidistant between Tel Aviv (35 miles to the northwest), Jerusalem (42 miles northeast), the Gaza border (28 miles southwest), and the Negev Desert capital of Be’er Sheva (27 miles south).

“Looking ahead, we are now in the early planning phase for manufacturing site expansions in Oregon, Ireland and Israel, with multi-year construction activities expected to begin in 2019,” explained the company’s manufacturing and operations chief Ann Kelleher. “Having additional fab space at-the-ready will help us respond more quickly to upticks in the market and enables us to reduce our time to increased supply by up to roughly 60 percent.”

Intel also recently invested an undisclosed portion of a $30-million fund in Pliops – a cloud- and enterprise-data storage company located in the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan. And it’s currently in the final stages of bidding to take over Israeli network-equipment manufacturer Mellanox, estimated to be worth $6 billion. Though that’s less than half of what it paid for Mobileye, the Mellanox acquisition stands to ratchet Intel’s Israeli investments to date past the $40-billion mark, further cementing its place as one of the largest foreign investors in the country’s burgeoning tech sector.

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