A Rare Interview with Playtika’s CEO, Robert Antokol

For those of you who follow the Social Casino niche you’ll know that Robert our CEO rarely speaks publicly. Though it took me some convincing, I was able to get Robert to speak at Casual Connect Tel Aviv.

Robert is one of the only CEO’s in the games industry that has been able to successfully build a company from the ground up – from two guys with a power-point and a big vision – to a 1200 person company with hundreds of millions of dollars of revenues, 5 hit games, and all this while maintaining a leadership position in a niche with some big and worthy competitors.  I recommend the talk below to anyone who is involved in the casual/social games industry and even more so for those who are involved in our niche.

Below is a rare interview with Robert conducted by Venturebeats Dean Takahashi where they discuss Playtika, the social casino market and some of our secret sauce.

To view an up to date market review of the social casino industry click here


State of the Social Casino Industry Q3 2015

Casual Connect Tel Aviv was a big success and I will be writing a specific post about the conference pretty soon. I have gotten several requests to share my presentation from the conference so here it is. Just note that this is a rolling lecture series and is given approx every two quarters. The previous versions of the lecture can be found here on my blog as well.

In Preparation for Casual Connect Tel Aviv 2015: A Guide to the Top Places in Tel Aviv


Us globe-trotting gaming execs spend lots of time at conferences around the globe. Every time I find myself in a new city for a conference, I try to find a like-minded local who can point me in the right direction in terms of what to do.  To make your life easier (and more fun), the Business Development team here at Playtika have put together a list of our favorite things to do in Tel Aviv – specifically for the global gaming community coming this October 19-21 to Casual Connect in Tel Aviv.

The list below is far from everything that is great in the city but its a good shortlist that represents some of the best that Tel Aviv has to offer . Hope you find this helpful. We are looking forward to seeing you here in October.

Ow and don’t forget not to make any plans for October 20th. That’s the night that we are hosting an awesome party at one of Tel Avivs most awesome venues.

Our Favorite places to eat

Stylish and Trendy

Cantina: Stylish Italian with a high end vibe, located on Rothschild Ave. right in the middle of it all. Good looking people, great food, not that cheap J

Popina: Chef Restaurant in Neve Zedek neighborhood, great for small group stylish yet downtempo environment, astounding food.

Social Club: Trendy, NYC vibe bistro, great for a night out of both food and drinks. Located right off Rothschild Ave. Rumored to be the favorite spot of the Facebook London team J

Joz Ve loz: Intimate and casual chef restaurant with a hipster vibe. Great outside garden. Located somewhat off the beaten path but in reality only a 3 minute cab ride from the center of the city.

Vicky Christina: Super trendy tapas restaurant and bar on the south side of the city located in a historic train station compound. Great place for a larger group – may be too loud for proper meetings but undoubtedly one of the best spots in the city.

Taizu: The finest Asian fusion cuisine in the city. Located in the same building as Playtika! Perfect for business meetings lunch and dinner.

FU Sushi: Located on the north side of the city, FU is probably the best Sushi spot in town. The place gets full very early. Make a reservation ahead of time!

Sifo: Mediterranean Seafood restaurant in the heart of the Jaffa Flee market (which is worth a visit – see attractions below). Super tasty and casual place to eat, drink, people watch and experience some of tel avivs most authentic vibe.

Tapas 1: A stylish Tapas restaurant with an eclectic design, high tables, great food, and abundant cocktails.

Mul Yam: Very fine fish and seafood restaurant. In an Israeli context this is a fancy spot, located in the Tel Aviv port. This is a spot to take someone you want to impress.

Herbert Samuel: Another highly recommended chef restaurant which is considered an establishment in the tel aviv culinary scene. Food is eclectic and superb. Great sea view.

Shila: Trendy seafood and fish restaurant and bar, located at the beating center of the city. Good looking people, the bar is known to be a good pick up spot for you single people J

Brasserie: One of the oldest and most established restaurants in the city. Open 24 hours a day this is a great spot for you late night munch with friends.

 The Brothers – Ha’achim : a hip Israeli restaurant and bar. This is a place to enjoy Israeli music and mingle with Tel Aviv’s finest.

Dinings: a branch of the famous Japanese Tapas restaurant from London. Located on a third-floor rooftop, overlooking vibrant Tel Aviv.

Mantaray: specializing in creative Middle Eastern cuisine and located alongside the sands of the beach, Manta Rey is Madonna’s favorite when visiting Israel.

Local and Street Food

Dr. Shakshuka: Doctor Shakshuka, a restaurant located at the heart of the flea market, is serving North-African home-style cuisine, which has many fans. Most of the cooking is done in the family kitchen by the mother of the family.

Super Falafel Allenby: One of the best Falafels in town, Super Falafel is nothing more than a street stall but worth every bite.

Turk Lahmajun: one of the best places to get Shawarma (sliced meat in Pita bread/Lafa) in Tel-Aviv. The place may be bustling during lunch time, after you taste it you’ll understand what the fuzz is about.

Itsik Hagadol: This is the right place to be amazed with the abundance of the Israeli Mediterranean cuisine, including a variety of salads and delicious meat dishes. Recommended with a group of people that will be able to share all this food.

Tony Vespa: Selling their tasty pizza to hungry Tel Avivian customers, Tony Vespa is the star of Tel Aviv’s new wave of pizza joints. There isn’t a standard slice of pizza – you get to choose your own rectangular-shaped slice, and that way to taste many toppings.

Humus Nahmani One of Playtikas favorite lunch spots this is a great place to eat humus in a casual setting. Right of Rothschild Ave in the center of it all. Ow and its a cash only spot so make sure to have some one you.

Abu Hasan: the best Humus in town in a simple setting. Make sure to get there before 1:00PM which is when the Humus runs out.

**For additional food recommendations by type/genre visit Telaveat website 


Our Favorite Bars & Clubs


Habustan (the Secret Garden): Located in the old train station compound in the south of the city, this super trendy bar is a place to see and be seen. The door can be tough sometimes (unless you come via us of course) and this is where the in-the-know crowds come to drink and party.

Rothschild 12: A bistro by day and an underground club by night, the club offers different live music shows almost every night. This is Playtikas home ground as all our local industry mingles get done here!

Port Said: This is a super hipster bar designed with long tables outside that allows people to gather together and listen to old records playing. Next to your drinks you can enjoy Casual Middle Eastern food prepared by one of the most infamous and strange Israeli chefs named Eyal Shani.

Sura Mara: Restaurant and Bar on the top of an unexpected rooftop. Great view of the city with a nice vibe. Great spot to mingle with friends and colleagues from the industry.

Jajo wine bar: A beautifully decorated wine bar (with light food) located in a historical underground chamber of sorts. Great for a date (if you have one while you’re here), a one on one meeting, as well as a small group of people.

Zou Bisou: Inspired by Mad Men and New York in the 1950s and 1960s. Zou Bisou offers a sophisticated dinner and bar experience that ensures you enjoy both the menu and the late-night atmosphere.

Taylor Made: Nestled in a hidden back yard style restraint and bar right off Roscthcild ave. This is a nice place to come and chill and enjoy having chasers with the locals.

Bellboy: Located right by the CC Israel event, this is a concept cocktail bar where the waiters wear a bow tie and jacket and serve you sophisticated cocktails in a dark 1920s setting.

The Library Bar at the Norman: The Library Bar is an elegant 1940s colonial style bar, situated at the Norman hotel Lobby. Sip one of the classic cocktails, whiskies and cognacs at the pewter-topped bar. As the sun sets, the Cocktail Bar comes to life, with late night entertainment from our in-house DJ and live performances that draw locals and tourists alike.

Nanuchka: Nanuchka is a Vegan restaurant with a traditional Georgian food. A great place to drink, eat and dance in a unique atmosphere.

Shaffa Bar Jaffa Flea Market: Shaffa bar is located in the flea market on the border between Tel Aviv to Jaffa- the hottest spot in the city. The menu is very diverse and so is the atmosphere- from easy going breakfasts and lunch to an evening menu with lively atmosphere, good alcohol, live bands, and cool Dj’s playing great music.

Mila Bar: Popular among the hip, this is the perfect place to get a real feel for the local bar scene. Expect a loud, fun and vibrant space. Good-looking patrons fill the stools and the standing room in between.


Cat & Dog: Notoriously known as one of Tel Aviv’s sleaziest hangouts, parties here start late (and yes, we mean around 3am) and last long after the sun comes up.

Breakfast-Milk: Operating since 2005, the “Breakfast club” has become one of the fundamental cornerstones, shaping what seems to be the “golden era” of the insanely decadent nightlife in Tel Aviv. Located at the peak of the famous Rothschild Blvd, the “Breakfast club brings together the crowd with a deep emotional experience of music, which creates the magical atmosphere that will keep you dancing from dusk till dawn.

Clara: One of the most established dance clubs in the city. Located on the seafront across the intercontinental hotel. Drives a multinational crowd as well as locals. If you’re looking for a dance floor this is your spot.

Radio EPGB: the underground bar with the mysterious acronym that defies all attempts at explanation – This late night spot is known for its after parties. The Radio as it’s known by the locals features great Djs, loud music, and a great crowd.

The Block: Recently renovated and re-opened in the Central Bus Station, The Block is surprising – a quality underground club with an incredible analog sound system bringing an impressive line-up of DJ’s every weekend.

Shalvata: Overlooking the Mediterranean waters at Tel Aviv’s Port, this chilled out bar is known for its music and sea breezes. Great for an afternoon beer.


Our Favorite Hotels

Norman: Tel Aviv’s newest 5 star boutique hotel located right off Rothschild Ave. This is a beautiful and expensive hotel with all the features you would expect of a top class hotel. If you can afford it take a room here!

Hotel Montefiore: Small and stylish boutique hotel with a great downstairs restaurant (on our restaurant list) Right smack center in the best area of the city and of course very close to the CC Tel Aviv event, this should be one of your choices if you can get a room.

Townhouse Hotel: Right by the Montefiore and Alma hotels, the townhouse the less expensive sister of Montefiore. The hotel is owned and designed by the son of one of Israel’s most famous interior designers. Great location and value for money.

Alma: Probably one of the most uniquely designed hotels in the city which shares its location with the two hotels above. This is an expensive way to experience Tel Aviv but you don’t come often so why not splurge?

Brown: In the heart of Tel Aviv’s urban scene, at the crossroads of the charming Neve Tzedek quarter and trendy Rothschild Boulevard and a ten minute walk from the beach, the Brown TLV Urban Hotel is an ideal choice for the seasoned business traveler as well as the lifestyle-driven individual eager to access the vibrant city.

Royal Beach: Royal Beach Tel Aviv is a luxurious and elegant hotel, offering the guests a great hospitality experience in the big city. Royal Beach Tel Aviv, designed by German star interior architect Harald Klein, who specializes in urban hotel interior designs and worked on many hotels worldwide.

Carlton on the beach: Carlton Tel-Aviv is a business hotel on the beachfront, the best choice if you like to open your day with a sea dip.

Alexander: The Alexander Tel Aviv, a Luxury designed Hotel in Tel Aviv located on the beach overlooking the beautiful Mediterranean sea. The Alexander Tel Aviv offers a luxury accommodation in a prime location for perfect hospitality

The Rothschild Hotel: The Rothschild 71 is all about comfort, intimacy and class for both a business trip and an urban vacation alike. Conveniently situated in the center of Tel Aviv’s cultural and financial quarter, located on the famous Rothschild Boulevard, in a carefully renovated ‘International Style’ house built in 1934

Bardichevski: Tucked away on a quiet street in the cultural heart of Tel Aviv, A brand new 24 room boutique hotel based around one simple theme – pure indulgence in the city that never sleeps.

Diagilev: The Diagilev boutique hotel always changes and develops, taking on new layers of content and creating diverse, one-of-a-kind experiences. With its changing art exhibitions, exclusive cultural events, unusual concept and diverse style, every visit at The DIAGHILEV is totally unique

Versano Hotel: The Varsano is a luxury-suites hotel located in the beautiful Neve Tzedek neighborhood.

Atlas Hotels: Israel’s Leading Boutique Hotel Chain, with many hotel options in Tel-Aviv.

Airbnb Tel Aviv: always an interesting option.


Our Favorite beaches

Gordon Beach

Mezizim Beach

Hilton Beach

Frishman Beach

Banana Beach


Our favorite Tel Aviv Attractions (links coming soon)

Jaffa Port: A picturesque historical port (over 2000 yearsbold) the Jaffa port is a great place to grab and afternoon cocktail. The port also frequently hosts some awesome art shows. Walk up the stirs from the port to visit the historical city of Jaffa for some history and great views of the city of tel aviv.

Neve Zedek: A stylish historical neighborhood in the South of the City, Neve Tzedek is a great place to stroll the Main Street called Shabazi, browse the boutiques, and grab a glass of wine at the Jajo wine bar.

Carmel Market: one of the most colorful experiences in the city the carmel market is Tel Avivs largest food and produce market. If you’re into markets, this is a must visit spot.

The Jaffa Flee Market: Jaffas flee market is another spot not to be missed. The flee market has gone stylish over the past couple of years but there are still hundreds of stalls selling vintage stuff. This is also a great place to also find some of Tel Avivs best indie fashion / jewlery designers. If you get a chance to come here in the evening the flee market also boasts a great restaraunt and bar scene. Note the recommendation we made above for the Shafa bar.

Tel Aviv Museum


Recommended Transportation

Gett (the local Uber) One of Israels most promising tech companies. With over 1000 employees Gett is a local Uber style service that operates in a Tel Aviv, London, Moscow, and St Petersburg. Download the app and use it while you’re here.

Casual Connect is coming to Tel Aviv in 2015


UPDATE: I have posted a list of favorite spots in Tel Aviv for all of you newbies coming to our amazing city.

The Casual Connect conference is considered by many to be the most important gaming industry conference. It happens 4 times a years around the globe in San Francisco, Amsterdam, Singapore and from 2015 it will be happening in Tel Aviv as well.

Recognizing the importance of Israel to the global gaming industry, the organizers of Casual Connect have decided to add Tel Aviv to the gaming industry map. Im glad to be working with the organizers to make this happen. If you’re interested in more information please fill out this form.