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Verbit CEO ‘Quits’ Israel to Protest Judicial Reform Plan

Verbit Founder Tom Livne

Verbit Founder Tom Livne (screenshot)

Tom Livne, the CEO of Verbit, an Israeli startup and a unicorn that has built an AI-powered real-time transcription and captioning service, said that he is leaving Israel in protest over the judicial reforms proposed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition government. Livne is doing this so as not to pay taxes in Israel anymore.

“Over the past few years, I’ve paid tens of millions of dollars in taxes and my company has paid hundreds of millions in taxes,” said Livne. He added that if all of Israel’s business leaders were to take similar actions then the government would have no choice but to engage them and listen to them on the issue of judicial reform.

“I hope [others] will see me doing this and follow my lead to stop residing in Israel and to stop paying taxes. This is the solution and one that will hurt [the government] the most,” added Livne.

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Founded in 2017 by Kobi Ben Tzvi, Sivan Cohen Pur, and Tom Livne, Verbit’s total investment to date exceeds $550 million (including secondary deals). Its valuation has more than doubled to $2 billion since the company raised $157 million in a Series D round in May.

Verbit’s AI platform enables businesses to embrace digital transformation and operate more efficiently with tailored processes that fit their particular transcription and captioning demands.

Tom Livine’s announcement came just a week after Israeli startup Papaya Global, a fintech unicorn that offers a cloud based platform for companies to handle their payrolls, decided to divest itself of Israeli banks due to the judicial reform plan proposed by Benjamin Netanyahu’s government. And that move came after the Governor of the Bank of Israel himself warned Netanyahu that the plan could harm foreign investment in Israel since it would weaken Israel’s democratic system.

And major American firms like JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs have also expressed concerns about the future of Israel’s economy should the proposed judicial reform plan go through. The warning from JP Morgan came in the form of an internal memo titled “Israel Strategy: Domestic volatility flares up” that was revealed by Israeli media. The memo stated that “the volatility across Israeli local assets has notably increased recently, as renewed geopolitical tensions were added to investor concerns over the government’s potential judicial reforms.”

Goldman Sachs, issued its own warning that the judicial reforms proposed by Benjamin Netanyahu’s government could harm Israel’s economy and cause the Shekel to drop in value.

Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition government’s proposed judicial reform plan would dramatically curtail the powers of Israel’s Supreme Court and attorney general. So, opponents say that this would leave the government free to do whatever it wants in the absence of any oversight.

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