A passionate innovator, Dov Moran is the founder and chairman of M-Systems known for creating the world’s first flash drive (DiskOnChip) in 1995 and, in 1999, the first USB flash drive (DiskOnKey) for which he holds a patent. The company’s patents were sold for $1.6 billion to SanDisk in 2006. He also created modu, which made modular cellular devices selling that company’s patents to Google for $4.9 million; and, most recently, his startup Comigo launched in 2012, a comprehensive, multi-screen TV platform, which offers a revolutionary personal and social viewing experience and provides contextual VAS on top of the broadcasted stream. It is considered the future of TV viewing.
So who is this Israeli inventor who revolutionized the world of technology when he clicked all computer devices together and invested in multiple startups? Born in 1955 in Kfar Saba, the father of four children obtained a bachelor of science degree at the Technion, Israel’s Institute of Technology, and later served in the Navy. He received the Doctor of Honor from the Moscow Technical University, and got the IEEE Information Storage Systems Award for outstanding contributions to information storage systems with emphasis on computer storage systems. Moran also serves as chairman and is involved with many companies in the fields of video-related technology, education, medical devices, mobile applications and software.
He spoke with i3 about the importance of innovation.
What does innovation mean to you?
Innovation is what really drives the world and makes it better. Innovation is about trying new things and being willing to fail. You need to take risks and you need to be ready to fail. Every day, every hour, you need to ask—what can I do different? How can I make this thing better? How can I solve this issue? Some people are willing to do this. Some people live their lives like this. I try to live in a way that I constantly try to innovate. One aspect of that is problem solving. On many occasions, if you see a problem—even a basic problem—many people go around it or evade it. When I see a problem or something that is problematic to other people—it makes me strive to find a solution. So innovation is constantly striving to find solutions. Sometimes, solutions to problems that other people did not identify yet.
How do you innovate?
One lesson that I learned is that you can’t create innovation by marketing surveys or asking people what they need. You innovate by understanding markets and understanding needs and creating solutions which are not defined yet. Sometimes I invented things that I thought were amazing but I failed. They failed because they were my need and not others’ needs. There were situations where the response was, “this won’t fly” but it flew… You should take risks and be ready for the outcome. Clearly, when talking about risks this should be calculated risks.
How did you develop the USB stick?
One day I went to a conference in NY to give a speech. Unfortunately when I arrived, my computer died so I could not give my presentation. My friend said, “Use my computer.” But I asked, “How could I transfer the file from my computer when it won’t turn on?” It was really very embarrassing. At the end of this episode, I said to myself, I am never going to be in such a situation again. I will always go with the presentation in my pocket. Now clearly, when you want to invent you need to understand what’s behind you. You should at least understand technology, engineering and market trends. You may wake up in the morning and say I have an idea but you have to know what you are doing. We understood flash. We knew about USB. We figured out the market need so we were at the right time and the right place with the right concept and it has become a great success.
What is Comigo working on?
Comigo is bringing to market the future of TV. It’s not only the TV set, it’s the phone and the tablet all connected, all with content that is richer than what you get to see today under the control of the end user. There are many things you can do—ecommerce and socializing and accessing personal connections—there are many applications related to what you see. Actually, we provide the platform for others to develop such applications and provide them to the operator that should disseminate them. We have been in the market for We have been in the market for 3 1/2 years and a lot of companies in several countries are using our solutions for their customers. It is the TV of the future of ecommerce, home health and even elearning.
How will that work with home health?
I believe the world has to go through a major change as it relates to health and hospitalization. The costs of hospitalization continue to grow. On the other side, when you go to a hospital, you actually risk yourself because this is a very sick place. I believe that smart sensors are coming to the market quickly. I am working on the development of such sensors with several companies, some established by me and some I have invested in. These sensors will also be connected to the phone and the TV screen. The TV at your home will let your physician and the hospital team talk with you, watch you and see your data. The new concept of home hospitalization is important, not just as a business success, but it will change the world and make it better.
How do you see healthcare changing over the next five years?
I think first of all sensors are going to be much smarter. They will all be connected—all of the data will be going to the cloud. In the cloud they will be analyzed, and from the big data experts will be able to see how they are influenced by different medications and different treatments. Treatments are going to be more personalized. DNA is going to take a huge role in prevention and smart analysis.
What role does the Internet of Things play?
I am a big believer in the Internet of Things. Everything is going to be connected, monitored and personalized. We are heading toward a world where life will be safer and easier.
Will there be security issues with data?
Clearly with so much data moving from one place to another, the issues of privacy and security are very important. The world has solutions to those issues. Let’s not stop the evolution and the progress due to fears of security. All of these solutions inherently will be encrypted, secured and protected. I am not concerned about the issue of privacy because the data will be highly protected and because I have nothing to hide.
You have invested in multiple startups. How did you develop this mindset?
After modu, I allowed myself to diverge and actually go in many directions and surround myself with some bright good people. And people also come to me with ideas for companies. So I found myself in the situation where I speak with many smart people, first as an investor in some of those companies. I am also an inventor and I work with people to create new companies and to implement new ideas. True story, every time I wake up and go to the shower, ideas just pop in—don’t ask me why, I don’t know. It could be an idea I discussed with friends, a problem I tackled. I like very much the concept of talking with smart people and out of these conversations sometimes come good ideas. And then it is fun to try to implement those ideas.
What makes Israel so successful and innovative?
For me this is very, very clear. The majority of the people in Israel are Jewish immigrants. And many of these people are survivors. And in the mode of surviving, we are always looking for unique solutions. It is something that is in the DNA of the people of Israel.
What are your thoughts on crowdfunding to help young companies get funding?
Crowdfunding is amazing. It is a great concept and a great idea. I give you one company as an example—Scio—you will see the great response that this company received on Kickstarter. It actually was looking for $200,000 and it received $2.8 million—over 10 times what they were looking for. Crowdfunding enables people to be part of a new product with low risk but with the pleasure of being one of the first to believe and support.
What opportunities do you see in the CE market?
Generally, I see a great connection between medical devices and consumer electronic devices especially video and the applications around video, security and elearning all combined with everything connected. There will be many interesting products. Clearly things like the car with no driver, is an amazing phenomena and achievement. I think it is becoming a better world and I want to be a part of it.