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July 30, 2015 3:45 pm

Iconic Israeli Entrepreneur Yossi Vardi Credits Pushy Jewish Mother for His Startup Success

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

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Yossi Vardi contributed his success to his pushy Jewish mother. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Yossi Vardi attributed his success to his pushy Jewish mother. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Legendary Israeli investor Yossi Vardi credited his success in Israel’s lucrative start-up industry to his relentless Jewish mother, the U.K.’s Daily Mail reported on Thursday.

“Jewish mothers are never satisfied and nothing is ever good enough,” he said, adding that his mother, who died 15 years ago, used to compare him with his cousins and call him “an idiot.”

“For most of my life I have been trying to show her I’m not,” he continued. “I keep on trying even now.”

Vardi, 73, said the “phenomenon” of difficult-to-please Jewish mothers is the “secret sauce” behind Israel’s success in producing the world’s most driven and determined entrepreneurs. He joked regarding Jewish children that “from the age of five we are told unless you are able to win at least one Nobel prize you will heap disappointment on the family.”

The tycoon, who studied engineering at the Israel Institute of Technology, made $273 million selling instant messaging application ICQ to online giant AOL in 1998. He has served as a strategic adviser to AOL and Amazon, and co-founded Israel’s largest energy company, Alon. He is also a member of the World Economic Forum.

Vardi has invested in 86 start-ups and led 25 of them to successful exits, which he said makes him “the most successful angel investor in Israel.”

“But 27 went bust, which also makes me the worst,” he quipped.

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