Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg was in Tel Aviv on Wednesday (Aug. 14) to introduce the social media giant’s “Playground” as a new platform for the local startup community.
The playground offers cutting-edge facilities for promising startups, including workshop spaces, meeting rooms and media production studios. It aims to serve as a bridge between Israeli startups and global customers and between traditional businesses and innovators, VentureBeat reported.
“This country is not just deeply meaningful for me, but also for Facebook,” Sandberg said at the Tel Aviv event, adding she briefly lived in Israel as a child. “This is a country of startups and entrepreneurs. Our goal in this space at Playground is to help these startups become the leading tech companies.”
Playground’s “Startup Growth Program” selected 13 startups and entrepreneurs that have already raised capital and are considered strong companies for the hub, the report said. The goal is to build connections, develop skills and foster innovation in the region.
Facebook has built several dozen Playground hubs around the world. However, Israel is a notable addition as home to the social media giant’s second-largest non-U.S.-based engineering hub after London, with more than 350 employees, VentureBeat said.
Sandberg said she expects Playground to reach 15,000 people each year and to span various programs, training sessions, office hours and mentoring opportunities.
“Israel is a startup nation, second only to Silicon Valley, with the highest density of startups in the world,” Sandberg said. “Today I met entrepreneurs that find customers, hire people, and grow their business on our services. They are building communities, and they are creating jobs and turning bold ideas into technologies that change the world.”
The startup hub will feature myriad workshops and programs for startups, developers, and partner companies and will also serve as a studio for producing videos and podcasts.
“Playground will allow us to scale everything we currently do in the Facebook Israeli office,” said Adi SofferTeeni, country director for Facebook Israel. “It will create a dedicated space for the Israeli ecosystem, bringing together old and new, traditional and digital, and — most importantly — people.”
Playground is just another avenue that Facebook is using to work with people from across the tech community, including business and community leaders and developers, among other audiences.