Published October 19, 2009
You don't know Aviv Refua but you're probably familiar with his handiwork.
The next time you surf the Web, just type the name of the site you want to visit — Fox News, that is — rather than the entire website address, http://www.foxnews.com. All that w-w-w and http stuff should magically appear, and your browser should take you to the correct website.
Refua wrote that software. And he did that when he was 18 years old.
Fox News spoke with the young inventor in Tel Aviv. "What I told [my parents] 10 years ago was that I had an idea to make the web more friendly," he told us. So Aviv started a company, filed for a patent and then left to do his compulsory service in the Israeli army.
His company, Netex, won the patent for that software a decade later, software that most big Internet companies are already using.
"What we will do, I believe, is offer licensing to use our technology to U.S. companies,” suggested Aviv.
Netex has not received a nickel in proceeds yet. But when word of the patent reached Israel’s stock exchange, the value of his company’s stock jumped more than 100 percent. Now 28 years old, Aviv is sitting on a company with an estimated value around $20 million dollars.
His 55 employees aren’t sitting around waiting for the licensing checks to roll in, however. Netex just unveiled springo.com, a website that, like the genesis of Netex itself, is designed to make navigating the Web a bit more user friendly.