Dov Moran is a world-renowned inventor of a USB memory stick and the pioneer of several flash memory technologies. A managing partner of Grove Ventures, Dov is one of Israel’s most prominent high-tech leaders, visionary entrepreneurs, and investors.
In an interview with the Ukrainian media, Dov Moran spoke about his brainchild, the future of startups, and how Ukraine can stay ahead of the curve in innovation. This is our English translation of the interview.
Dov, you are known all over the world as the inventor of a USB flash drive. How did you come up with the idea of creating it?
It happened 20 years ago. Late at night, I had a long flight to a conference. It was an exhausting flight, as I was working hard on my presentation. Several hours forward, I’m already at the conference, standing in front of the audience and realizing that my computer is not working. I can’t show my presentation. Someone in the audience is like “Hey, use my computer!” But how do I transfer data from my computer to his? It was technically impossible at that time!
But I couldn’t take this case out of my memory for a while until I realized I had to create a way to move information, like my presentation, from one computer to another. So I created a flash drive. We knew how to transfer data to a hard drive, but after a while, we built the technology to create a flash drive.
My key message for every inventor is – always think about how to use new technology and devices to create something that solves a problem. But it’s all based on knowledge alone.
Does the flash drive have a future, or will cloud technology replace it? What do you think?
I’ve been hearing for a long time that the flash drive will disappear, everything will go to the clouds. I don’t care! It’s my brainchild, but I’m not resisting new technologies. Everything is developing. Now there are new technologies, unique needs.
What do you do now? What project are you working on?
Now my interest is Big Technology. If you look at Israel, most of the success stories are Big Technology stories. And now you should ask, what is it?
And what is it?
This is an infrastructure that shows who we are. It is a science that studies technology, its large-scale impact, artificial intelligence. We invest in robust big tech projects and companies.
If we talk about investments, who has the brighter future – hardware or software startups?
We invest in many companies. For example, those that make semiconductors. It’s more like hardware. But they also deal with cloud technologies. We have Nucline, for instance. They have combined medical data analysis and data collection. It’s a tool that can recommend the best treatment for you, according to the data collected and based on your medical images. It’s pure technology. So it’s hard to answer this question as there’s always a combination of both when it comes to big tech.
On October 30th, UNIT.City will host the Ukrainian-Israeli Innovation Summit.* What do you expect from the event?
[*Ukrainian-Israeli Innovation Summit 2019 is a second annual tech conference to be held in Ukraine’s largest innovation park Unit.City on October 30, 2019. The event will bring together more than 600 top managers, IT entrepreneurs, government representatives, startups, venture capital investors and business angels from Israel and Ukraine. Learn more on the event’s Facebook page.]
I trust we are building relations between our countries. We already have a lot of mutual achievements to be proud of. Many software engineers from Ukraine work in Israel while keeping and providing for their families in Ukraine. Many Israeli startups use software and technology solutions built by Ukrainian IT specialists. You have a lot of smart people, so we can be useful to each other.
Today, Israel is regarded as a country of inventors. But this was not always the case. What is the secret of such a leapfrog?
We had to survive. Israel faced many challenges in the past years. We had to find a competitive advantage. And now we see that everything is changing very quickly. We dare to try as many times as it takes to achieve success. We’re an incredibly motivated nation.
What would you recommend to Ukrainian inventors?
You have to find the strength to try. And you also need knowledge. My advice is to learn. You need to survive and find your place. You need to search for something new like we did. I started in 1999 when there were very few tech companies out there. We also had a lot of problems: the war had affected our wages and wellbeing in general. And then the big investors believed in Israeli companies. At first, they did not want to give money. They were like, “Well… an Israeli company? Then maybe we can invest a million, no more.”
And then Israeli IT companies began to grow and develop, and investors believed in them. In 2006, we bought a company that was engaged in flash drives. And then Google bought Waze, an Israeli company that collected information from drivers and integrated it into the application, for a billion dollars. I think that Ukraine is in a similar condition now. You can already see that the situation is improving. It just takes a little more patience.
And the most important thing is to dare!