• Eitan Bienstock

Intel Inside - My Israeli lesson about the future of work.

Updated: Oct 14, 2019


Intel Kiryat Gat, Israel (circa 2008)

There are many things relating to the future of work that I could talk about but I chose the one thing that I believe has the biggest impact. To do that, I will share my personal story going back 23 years ago.


In 1996 after failing a few of my own startup ideas I joined Intel Corporation. This was the time when Israel already had a good level of technology sophistication which was mostly manifested itself locally. This was when we called the industry the hi-tech industry and companies, hi-tech companies. The terms startups and ecosystems were mainly used by biologists and anthropologists.


I joined Intel as part of the founding team for a new semiconductor manufacturing plant called a FAB. We were going to build FAB18 in the south of Israel in a place called Kiryat Gat which is not far from the city of Beer-Sheva that is considered the capital of the Negev desert. At that time, this region relied mainly on agriculture and basic low-tech manufacturing such as textiles. It was a remote area in Israeli terms and in large was of a low socio-economic level. It was an area were low skilled immigrants were settled as they arrived in waves over the 50s and 60s.


The plan was bold. We were going to build the most advanced semiconductor manufacturing facility in the world and probably one of the most sophisticated manufacturing plants in any industry. The total investment was going to be of 1.8 Billion USD of which the government was going to give Intel $600 Million as a grant (30% of the total investment).


The plan was bold. We were going to build the most advanced semiconductor manufacturing facility in the world and probably one of the most sophisticated manufacturing plants in any industry.


However the one question that was asked by many people across the political spectrum and the public at large was why such a hefty amount of money, from the very limited Israeli resource pool, need to be given to one of the richest and most successful corporations at the time. Many argued that it would be much better to spread the funds over hundreds of small Israeli enterprises to help them grow.


Intel proposal and subsequently the government positive decision was based almost entirely around the short, medium and long term employment benefits to the state of Israel. The mid-’90s were the early years of the internet revolution and we all tried to imagine its future impact. The future of work was in the heart of the decision to embrace the opportunity despite the financial and political risks. Approving the $600M government grand to Intel was a bold, visionary and unpopular decision.


The future of work was in the heart of the decision to embrace the opportunity despite the financial and political risks. Approving the $600M government grand to Intel was a bold, visionary and unpopular decision.


It took exactly 18 months from groundbreaking to being a fully operational FAB, producing the worlds’ most advanced semiconductors including Intel’s flagships CPUs. During that time, 1,000’s of Israeli subcontractors were employed. New world’s best practices and standards in construction and safety were introduced enforcing the Israeli construction industry to change forever.


The FAB employed 3,000 people half directly and half as subcontractors. In addition, there were 1,000’s of Israeli suppliers providing ongoing support. Since then Intel has expanded the Site building multiple new FABs to join the original FAB18, employing thousands more people. It helped make the South a major technology hub it is today, supporting a large demographic area changes in the region. Today, among others, the south of Israel is home for Israel’s world-leading Cyber Security industry.


It helped make the South a major technology hub it is today, supporting a large demographic area changes in the region. Today, among others, the south of Israel is home for Israel’s world-leading Cyber Security industry.


However, the projected direct and indirect employment benefits were not enough to persuade the government to grant the $600 Million. They were looking for a much larger contribution to benefit the entire nation, a commitment to support the Future of Work. As a result Intel committed to be doing its “best-effort” to support the local, back then, nascent hi-tech industry.


The result was the establishment of the Best Effort Commitment Program which I was fortunate to build and lead for its first 3 years. The commitment was that in 10 years the companies supported by the program would increase their revenues by more than $1 Billion dollars. We accepted dozens of companies in multiple areas from semiconductors to IT and supported them with engineering and global introductions. In the end, the program had reached its original goal in just in 8 years.


But in my opinion, the biggest contribution was not the direct and indirect employment, nor the subsequent industries that grew around Intel. It was not even the hi-tech companies we supported under the Best Effort Program. The biggest contribution was the 10s of thousands of ex Intel employees, empowered by global knowledge, that moved on to join and found new leading-edge technology companies. These people, through their Intel experience, are one of the foundation pillars of what is known today as the Startup Nation.


The biggest contribution was the 10s of thousands of ex Intel employees, empowered by global knowledge, that moved on to join and found new leading-edge technology companies.


Today there are over 360 multinational R&D centres in Israel. Almost every major global leader have an innovation activity and a R&D team in Israel. Their presence is a necessary ingredient contributing to the continued growth of the Israeli startup ecosystem ensuring Israel stays at the forefront of technology innovation. It is fundamentals for the availability of the jobs of the future.



Eitan Bienstock is the founder and CEO of Techbench Capital. Techbench Capital is a VC as-a-service company specialising in startup discovery and market development. We bring (Israeli) innovation to Australia while helping local investors and corporates invest and partner with the best startups.


Techbench is a speaking partner at the Future Work Summit taking place on 15 October 2019 at the Sydney's International Convention Centre.