In September 2023, Jefferies hosted its seventh annual Tech Trek, Israel’s largest institutional investor conference. The three-day event connects leading global investors with the Israeli tech ecosystem through a series of panels, presentations, and meetings.
During the conference, Jefferies spoke with Yoni Assia, Co-Founder and CEO of eToro, the world’s leading social investment network. Headquartered in Tel Aviv, eToro offers smart investing tools, multiple asset classes, and a social networking community to over 30 million users worldwide.
Assia discussed the genesis of eToro and its journey to success, highlighting his early inspiration, commitment to digital adaptation, and Israel’s growing role in the global financial and technology sectors. His insights offer a powerful roadmap to young entrepreneurs, detailing the strategies that drove eToro’s steady growth through shifting markets and continuous waves of innovation.
Note: Assia’s comments on Israel were made before the events of Oct. 7. The ongoing conflict may influence the region’s tech ecosystem and investment landscape.
The Founder’s Journey: Complementary Skills Support Innovation
Assia’s passion for finance and technology started in his early teens, as he learned to trade and develop software. While pursuing his master’s degree, he recognized the financial industry’s need for innovation.
“I was conducting research for Bloomberg on ways to simplify their terminal interface,” Assia shared. “I quickly realized the limitations of these platforms’ user experience. There was a huge opportunity to introduce internet innovation to the world of trading and investing.”
Assia brought a background in finance and computer science, and his brother, Ronen, was studying design. Their complementary skill sets laid the foundation for eToro: a user-friendly, visually engaging digital trading platform.
eToro’s Ethos: Embrace Digital Change
Founded on a bedrock of innovation, eToro’s 15-year journey has been marked by continual evolution and growth. The company’s success underlines the necessity of digital adaptation for long-term market leadership.
In 2010, tapping into the burgeoning world of social networking, eToro launched OpenBook, the world’s first social investment platform. The company continued to adapt in 2012, launching mobile apps to align with the rise of Apple and Android smartphones. Since then, eToro has consistently adapted its offerings, adding a diverse range of asset classes and enhancing its platform capabilities.
“Running a global company in a competitive sector isn’t easy,” Assia said. “Our vision has always been innovation, and that guides the design of our user experience; the new technologies we introduced; our integration of cryptocurrencies and machine learning; and more.”
The Market’s Future: AI Empowers Retail Investors
Looking ahead, Assia is particularly excited about artificial intelligence (AI) and its potential to support retail investors. With the growth of platforms like ChatGPT, everyday customers gain access to the sophisticated analytical tools once only available to large investment funds.
The democratization of technology and information is integral to eToro’s mission – and adopting new AI capabilities is the next big step.
“Suddenly, we have technologies that enable users to harness the wisdom of the crowd and leverage amazing analytical insights,” said Assia. “At eToro, we’re integrating these technologies quickly, rolling out platforms designed to empower better investment decisions.”
Israel’s Entrepreneurial Ecosystem
When Assia launched eToro, he faced skepticism about the possibility of creating a global financial and tech institution out of Israel. He drew inspiration from his father, who faced similar challenges with his own Israel-based tech startup, Magic Software, in the 1990s. Both companies helped prove Israel's potential as a tech hub, with Tel Aviv now a global center for innovation and entrepreneurship.
“Over the past 30 years, Israel has developed a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem,” Assia shared. “Today, people are building businesses, being inspired by their peers, and finding mentors to guide them. There are investors and talented entrepreneurs everywhere in Israel.”
Yoni Assia's journey with eToro reflects the remarkable evolution of both his company and Israel's tech landscape. His experience – blending finance, technology, and a relentless pursuit of innovation – offers invaluable lessons for entrepreneurs everywhere.