“You need to know how to lose money with as much dignity as you earned it”

Michael Eisenberg, equal partner at Aleph

“I’m not sure I should have been born at all. When I was 17, my parents told me that my mother had an accident early in her pregnancy. She fractured her pelvis, had an x-ray done that was dangerous for the fetus, and the dilemma arose as to whether to continue with the pregnancy. They decided to continue out of confidence and optimism, but they could have had an abortion. You can’t judge them one way or the other. It’s not even risk management, because in risk management you know the extent of the risk, what the possible outcomes are, and then you hedge the risk. They simply acted with great uncertainty. This is also my job, to act out of uncertainty, because the consequences of the result are unknown and unpredictable. So life is.”

After the dilemma, what kind of parents were they?

“My mom wanted average kids, she prayed for that. We’re seven, and we all think my mom was a genius at parenting – she believed that you shouldn’t set expectations that a child can’t meet. Today has she has an amazing relationship with her grandchildren.”

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מוסף שבועי 9/15/22 מייקל אייזנברגמוסף שבועי 9/15/22 מייקל אייזנברג

Michael Eisenberg.

(Photo: Edward Kaprov. The photograph was taken using the collodion wet plate technique, an early photographic process invented in the 19th century.)

At the age of 51 you are already a grandfather.

“Throughout history I would have been considered an old grandfather, today I am told I am a young grandfather. It’s a modern-day disease – in recent years people have been delaying conception, and that, in my view, is a dramatic mistake, and a contagious social epidemic. New parents need their parents at an age where they can help and learn from them, and children need grandparents to grow up with. I always tell people: have children early. The Ability to Balance Children and Work When you are young, it is also greater and you have more strength to take care of the children.

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Getting married early is also risky. It often ends in divorce.

“We also had difficulties, including going through four miscarriages together. People don’t usually talk about it, but we decided to be open about it. It happens, it’s part of life and today we have eight children, God willing. We are together. Relationships take work. We set up a date night once a week, but manage to keep it about every three weeks. Even without that, we share what we are going through every day and we consult a lot about children’s affairs. Even when we make mistakes, we ask forgiveness, both from the children and from each other. Sometimes during Yom Kippur, I tearfully ask my wife for forgiveness. My wife is an inspiration I’ve never met a person in my life who works on her morals like her.”

“Having no patience, even for myself. In ninth grade I had a rabbi I didn’t get along with, but as my wife says, you can learn something from everyone. He said, ‘There’s nothing worse than killing time, because from that moment on, time dies forever’. I’m very careful with my time. For example, I don’t have a TV because I think it’s a waste of time. Me I think meeting certain people is a waste of time, or even going to a birthday party. It’s extreme, it offends people. My wife points this out to me, and that’s a good thing. I’m working on that.”

Is it easier to lose money than to lose time? High-tech investors like you have lost a lot lately.

“When an entrepreneur has to close down a company that he has invested his soul in, that is the pain.”

What is your relationship like with people whose companies you invest in?

“These are long-term relationships. Some have become my friends, such as Lemonade’s Daniel Schreiber: I invested in his first company that failed and was the first investor in Lemonade. I don’t think they know everything.”

To what extent are fund managers blinded by charismatic entrepreneurs, Adam Neumann and Co.? You invested in him too.

“We made a profit on WeWork, we actually made a big profit, we sold quite a lot of shares in a timely manner. People forget that Adam Neumann changed the world of commercial real estate and created a company that makes $3 billion a year, so here’s a hot product. I also know investors who said no. But it’s true that a combination of power and charisma can rewire the brain, and that’s something to watch out for. I hope I know how to do it. Be careful, and if not – I’m sure my wife will warn me.”

There is a growing criticism of high tech, claiming it creates gaps, on the other hand people in high tech claim they experience hatred of the rich.

“The cause of social inequalities in Israel is not high tech, but the failure of education – the state cannot keep up with the needs of the market. He doesn’t train for the skills that the market needs. I’ve set up several educational ventures aimed at making high tech accessible and others are doing the same, so the politicians can’t blame the high tech industry, the code word is decentralization: decentralization of the Department of Education needs to be decentralized , divided and outsourced. Schools must compete for the hearts of students and parents. Only in this way will it be possible to rise to relevant employment standards in which students study relevant subjects for the 21st century.”

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Speaking of the 21st century, two weeks ago you attended a Zionist Organization conference in Basel marking the 125th anniversary of the First Zionist Congress. What else connects Zionists from all over the world and makes them gather in Basel like this? In the 21st century, only anti-Semitism seems to be able to do that.

“I don’t accept the statement that we wouldn’t be united without anti-Semitism, it’s defeatist. Anti-Semitism cannot be the glue because as soon as it evaporates, we all evaporate. Zionism is necessary to make Israel an economically and morally attractive place for people to come and start their lives here. We are not the USA where capitalism has turned into consumerism. I don’t see any advertisements in Israel encouraging credit to buy things – America has done that superficially. After 9/11, President George Bush said, “Go shopping,” today there is an economic crisis, and President Joe Biden says, “Buy cars.” There are other ways to make an economy grow because consumption is only focused on the here and now, not to the distant future, not to the question of where the journey is going. As Jews, we also have to think long-term and not just about a momentary good feeling.”

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