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April 1, 2020 10:06 am

Israel Will Overcome Covid-19 Crisis by June, Says CEO of Israel’s Mellanox Chipmaker

avatar by Naomi Zoref / CTech

Two Israeli emergency workers — one Muslim, one Jewish — taking a prayer break during the coronavirus pandemic. Photo via Daniel Carmon/Twitter.

CTech – Israel will overcome the coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis by June, according to Eyal Waldman, CEO of Israeli chipmaker Mellanox Technologies. Speaking with reporter Sophie Shulman on Tuesday in an online meetup held by Calcalist, Waldman said that his company has already prepared plans for the day after the pandemic.

“I think you can learn a lot from what is currently happening in China,” Waldman said. “The crisis there lasted for around three or four months and I think it will also be behind us by May or June.”

In the meantime, he said, Mellanox is supporting the fight against coronavirus. Currently, the company is in the process of bringing 20 million masks to Israel. Mellanox has already helped the Israeli government acquire eight ventilators, Waldman said.

According to Waldman, Mellanox’s network and its role as a major global supplier of computer networking products puts the company in a great position to acquire medical equipment.

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“We are trying to help wherever we can,” he said. “We are also working on flying over as many ventilators as possible and acquiring parts that can be used to assemble ventilators in Israel.”

Shortly before the outbreak of the coronavirus crisis, Mellanox was valued at nearly $7 billion, the amount Nvidia agreed to pay for it last year. Back in March 2019, when the $6.9 billion acquisition deal was announced, that sum reflected a 17% premium on Mellanox’s market capitalization.

According to Waldman, Mellanox is well positioned to overcome the shockwaves of the coronavirus pandemic. He also offered some advice to smaller companies.

“It is important to comprehend the situation and to cut expenses,” he said. “During the 2008 crisis, I cut my salary down to the minimum monthly wage and there were those who took 10% and 15% cuts and we saved a lot of money by reducing salaries for a year and a half. That allowed us to not fire anyone. The next thing to do is not cut research and development expenses so you can exit the crisis in a much better situation than you entered it. You must remember that your competition is also facing the same problems so you must not delay development. At Mellanox, we have overcome three or four global crises and three or four local geopolitical crises.”

Waldman believes the Israeli government needs to turn its focus first and foremost to aiding those people who are facing dire financial difficulties after losing their source of income. “I think that we need to start by giving everyone NIS 7,000 (approximately $1,960) to make sure that no one is in a situation that they wake up in the morning and they have nothing to eat,” he said.

Waldman is confident the local tech sector will quickly recover. “Firstly, I think the world will be a slightly different place than it was beforehand, just like after the 9/11 terror attacks or after the 2008 financial crisis. The world has changed and you need to get used to it and think about how you can use it to your advantage,” he explained. “I think Israeli tech will still play a leading role in the Israeli economy and that Israeli companies will understand that they can create plenty of opportunities for other startups. I think startups will continue to grow and I trust the Israeli CEOs that they will know how to adapt to the new situation.”

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