Tag Archives: Entrepreneur

Jew of the Week: Philippe Kahn

Inventor of the Camera Phone

Philippe Kahn (b. 1952) was born in Paris, France to Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. His mother fought alongside the French in World War II (with the rank of lieutenant), and went on to survive Auschwitz. Kahn studied in Zurich and Nice, attaining master’s degrees in both mathematics and music. During his studies, he wrote software for the world’s first modern personal computer, the French-made MICRAL of 1973. In 1982, he started his own company in California called Borland. It was one of the first start-ups to create software development tools, and stood out from other companies as it offered incredibly cheap products. (Its Turbo Pascal, for example, cost only $50 compared to the thousands of dollars that similar tools cost.) Over the next ten years, Kahn transformed Borland into a computer powerhouse with $500 million in revenue. However, a number of disagreements led to the board squeezing him out of his own company. Kahn took his severance pay and started a new company, Starfish. Just a few years later, he sold it to Motorola for a whopping $325 million. Around this time, Kahn’s daughter was born, and he got frustrated at his inability to quickly send baby photos to friends and family. He fiddled with his camera and his phone until he managed to link the two. He then sent history’s first photograph through a cellphone. This inspired him to develop the camera-phone, making it the focus of his new startup, LightSurf Technologies. This company, too, was bought out for $300 million. Since then, Kahn has started yet another company that designs and develops wearable technology. He is also an avid sailor, holding the world record for fastest San Francisco to Hawaii trip, and recently winning the Transpacific Yacht Race from LA to Hawaii. Kahn is credited with inventing the now-ubiquitous camera phone, and TIME Magazine included his first phone photograph in its 2016 list of the 100 Most Influential Photos of All Time.

The Mysterious Jewish Custom of Upsherin

Words of the Week

The day science begins to study non-physical phenomena, it will make more progress in one decade than in all the previous centuries of its existence.
– Nikola Tesla

First photo taken and sent by a cellphone – June 11, 1997. TIME Magazine ranked it among the 100 Most Influential Photos of All Time.

Jew of the Week: Michael Dell

Michael Saul Dell (b. 1965) was born in Houston, Texas to a Jewish family of German ancestry. He had a mind for business from a very young age, applying to take a high school equivalency exam at just 8 years of age, working in a restaurant by 12, and earning money from stocks throughout his teen years. At 15, he earned $18,000 (more than his high school teachers) by selling newspaper subscriptions to a specific demographic he had targeted by looking through public court records. It was during his first year of university studies that Dell started to put together personal computers in his dorm room. Shortly after, he founded his company, PC’s Limited, and quickly sold some $80,000 in upgraded computers, before incorporating as Dell Computer. By the time he was just 27, Dell’s company was already among the Fortune 500 world’s largest corporations, making him the youngest ever CEO on the list. In 1996, Dell Inc. was one of the first companies to sell computers over the web, and was soon making $1 million a day in online sales. Just five years later, it had become the world’s largest maker of personal computers. Today, it has 138,000 employees, and remains one of the top tech firms and computer manufacturers. Last year, Dell Inc. completed its acquisition of EMC Corporation in a deal worth a record-breaking $67 billion. Michael Dell is still the company’s CEO, and is also on the boards of the World Economic Forum, and three international business schools. He has been voted CEO of the Year and Entrepreneur of the Year. In 1999, he and his wife founded the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, which has since donated an astounding $1.23 billion to various causes around the world, including schools and medical institutions, charities in India, Africa, and across America, as well as the IDF. Most recently, Dell pledged $36 million to his hometown of Houston for its relief efforts following Hurricane Harvey.

Words of the Week

There may be food, there may be drink, but if there is no peace, there is nothing.
– Rabbi Shlomo ben Itzchak (“Rashi”, 1040-1105)

Jew of the Week: Larry Ellison

A Mega Philanthropist 

Larry Ellison

Larry Ellison

Lawrence Joseph Ellison (b. 1944) was born in New York and raised in Chicago by his aunt and uncle, who were his adoptive parents. Ellison studied computer programming at the University of Illinois but dropped out following the death of his adoptive mother. He moved to California shortly after, and bounced from one job to the next for eight years before settling at the Ampex Corporation. There, he worked on a project (code-named “Oracle”) to create database software for the CIA. A few years later, he put in $1200 of his own money (and $800 from two partners) to start a new company, Software Development Laboratories. By 1982, IBM started using their program and the company (now renamed Oracle Systems Corporation) was making millions. At the end of the first decade of the new millennium, Ellison was ranked as the highest-paid executive of any company, earning nearly $2 billion. Between 1997 and 2002, he was on the board of directors of Apple. In 2010, Ellison had Oracle acquire Sun Microsystems, another tech giant, for $7.4 billion. The following year, Forbes ranked Ellison the 5th richest person in the world. Aside from business, Ellison is a cup-winning yacht sailor, and a licensed pilot who owns two fighter planes. He has vast real estate holdings, and owns 98% of Lanai, the sixth largest island in Hawaii. Most importantly, Ellison is a huge philanthropist. By 2004, it was estimated that he had donated over $150 million. Since then, he has donated many millions more, including $10 million to the IDF, whom he described as “some of the bravest people in the world”. Most recently, Ellison donated a whopping $200 million to create a new cancer research centre at the University of Southern California. He has pledged to give as much as 95% of his wealth. Interestingly, he has also spent hundreds of millions on anti-aging research, saying that “death makes me very angry”.

Words of the Week

To become old is a grave sin.
– Rabbi Nachman of Breslov