A salute to graduates | Israeli high-tech phenom says follow your dreams now

If you could create a symbolic portrait of Israel’s youthful startup culture, it might look a lot like Michael Matias of Tel Aviv.

Michael Matias at HackGenY Silicon Valley, a 36-hour coding competition he organized and led in January.  photos/israel 21c

At 19, Matias has already made an international splash as an entrepreneur and tech visionary.

After graduating as valedictorian of the class of 2014 at the Walworth-Barbour American International School in Even Yehuda, Israel — where he captained the robotics, varsity tennis and Model UN teams — Matias took off for Silicon Valley to intern for eight months in Google’s Irrational Labs with Dan Ariely, a noted Israeli American behavioral economist.

During his internship, Matias founded Hacking Generation Y, a 36-hour coding competition model to promote entrepreneurship among high school students. The first one, held in January, was organized in just two months.

Michael Matias

“Most hackathons are targeted to college and post-college students, almost completely disregarding the younger generation,” Matias said in an interview two days before beginning his 41⁄2 years of service in an elite Israeli army technology unit.

Reprinted with permission from Israel21c, www.israel21c.org

Abigail Klein Leichman

Abigail Klein Leichman is associate editor of ISRAEL21c.