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

Telaviv

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

Bars

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.

Clubs

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.

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Social Casino 101: The Definitive Guide to the Social Casino Industry. Video Lecture Series

UPDATED Nov 2016

When I joined Playtika and the Social Casino industry in 2013, I was quite clueless about the realities of the niche. My goal was to become an industry expert as quickly as possible. One of the tools I used to study the niche was the outstanding casual connect you tube channel which features all the conference lectures.

Over the last couple years, I have been collecting a short list of “must view” video presentations which I update every so often. This page is an attempt to create a “first stop” for people entering the social casino space. If you spend the time to watch all the below presentations it will give you a wide and relatively comprehensive understanding of the nuances and complexities of the industry.  The videos below are not necessarily listed in the order of importance.

If you feel I have missed something here please do let me know by commenting below.


(Newly Added) Social Casino Market Overview: This is a rolling lecture which I give almost every quarter with a high level review of market realities including items like, Market Size, Competitive Analysis, and other relevant and timely trends. Below is the most recent of this series given in Causal Connect Tel Aviv during Nov 2016.

Previous versions of these series Oct 2015 Feb 2014 , Sep 2014 , March 2015 

 


(Newly Added) Playtika and Huuuge Games 1 on 1: In a detailed and transparent 1 on 1 talk, Adi Hanin, Director of Business Development @ Playtika chats with Anton Gauffin, Founder and CEO of Huuuge Games. Its not very often that you can get tow competitors on stage speaking about their shared and unique challenges and strategies. Given the contrast, Playtika the industry leader and Huuuge, the new hot growth company in the industry; the talk serves as a very insightful one allowing to see how different companies at different scales look at the present and the future.

 


Current and Future Challenges in Social Casino: In this informal fireside chat Games Beat Jeff Grub and I discuss the new realities in the maturing Social Casino market. We discuss items such as growth, user acquisition, slots content, Asia as a market, and how to break into the market as a smaller developer.

 


Fighting the Big Guys:  Its not secret that Social Casino has become a top concentrated market over the last couple years. Breaking into the list of the top tier contenders is a task that many have tried and most have failed. There are a few that have made some headway and have become the new kids on the block. In the two videos below (both very recent from Casual Connect San Francisco 2016) you can find these new kids talking about how theyve done it and what their plans are for the future. Niko as always is a great speaker so you should enjoy these. I think whats most interesting about these new contenders is that they have each carved out a very specific niche (within the social casino niche)  for themselves and this is what ultimately has brought about their success.

 

 


VIP Management / Loyalty Programs: VIP Management and Loyalty programs are a critical part of managing a successful Social Casino. Playtika has been managing a hyper successful Loyalty program for several years in Slotomania and was rolled out to all our games early in 2015. As the market matured, during 2015 we saw an industry wide trend of rolling out similar programs amongst some of the big and small market contenders. Below is a discussion about the subject from Casual Connect San Fran 2016 which should get you thinking.

 


1000 Voices in Social Casino: Googles Noam Peri presents a very insightful survey that google did to understand the motivations and behaviors of Social Casino players. This detailed survey should be seen by anyone who is active or planning to be active in the Social Casino market.

 


Bold Predictions on the Social Casino: Adam Krejcik  (from Eillers and Krejcik Gaming) discusses his predictions for the Social Casino Market. For those who dont know Adam, he is one of the most knowledgeable people in the industry through his capacity as the leading analyst of the Social Casino Industry. Adam releases monthly, quarterly, and yearly reports about the Social Casino industry and has become one of the main sources of information for understanding the market on a macro level.

 


That’s Entertainment: How to Create an Online Entertainment Destination. Carey Dijulio BigFish Casino. Carey is one of industries leading professionals and is the brains behind Big Fish Casino, one of Playtikas more worthy competitors. In this talk she discussed Social Casino as an entertainment venue and how to create the right entertainment environment for your users. This is an important concept to understand since Social Casino is a pure entertainment industry (Unlike RMG).

 


Mobile Social Casino’s Past Helps Gage Its Future. Carey Dijulio Big Fish Casino. Another great talk by Carey. In this presentation she discussed the evolution of Mobile Social Casino since 2012 in the effort to understand what the future of the niche may look like.

 


Understanding the Differences between Online Casino Gamblers and Social Casino Game Players. Pini Yakuel Optimove. The ongoing debate on the similarities and differences of Social Casino to Real Money Gambling online is ongoing. Those who are immersed in the industry understand that the differences are substantial and that Social Casino games are much closer in nature to Social games in general than to Real money gambling. There is of course some overlap in content and certain player segments. This lecture gives some clarity as to the numbers behind this difference.

 


Engaged To Social Casino. Cynthia Woll, Playtika. Cynthia is one of Playtika’s most talented game designers. Engaging users with entertaining game mechanics is critical to any games success.  In this talk, Cynthia reviews some of the core game mechanics of Social Casino games.

 


Social Casino & Facebook: What’s New? Julien Codorniou, Facebook. Julien leads the EMEA Facebook Games team from London. He has a unique view of the Social Casino industry as he works closely with, and has access to data from, all the large and small social casino companies on the Facebook Platform. Thought mobile is leading the growth of the Social Casino Industry, Facebook maintains its prominent role in the niche and will this will probably will continue to be the reality for a long while.

 


The World’s Best Slots Designers Reveal all. Slots are the number one making product type in the Social Casino Industry. Designing quality slots is a complex, time consuming process which is part art and part science and requires a high level of expertise. In this talk, slot experts discuss some of the details and nuances of designing winning slot machines.

 


The Importance of Customer Service in Social Casino Games. Andy Caras-Alatas, TraffGen. Unlike most of the social gaming industry, the concept of customer service in the social casino industry is mature and comprehensive. The concept of a high level of service provided to the social casino players and especially the payers is borrowed from the real money gambling / offline gambling world. It can be defined as one of the fundamental elements of a successful social casino company. In this talk Andy discusses some of the concepts, insights, and best practices in the customer service side of the industry.

 


Monetization and KPIs of Real Money Gaming and Social Casino Gaming. Cullen, Reaves. Once again I cant stress enough the differences between RMG and Social Casino games, operations, player psychologies etc. In this talk, Cullen and Reaves give some side by side comparisons of the core KPI’s from each of the industries with the goal of highlighting how different the two industries are. This talk is also has value in that its a good intro to the basic KPIs followed by Social Casino companies.

 


Social Casino in Emerging Markets. Vicenç Marti, Akamon. This is a subject that I believe is one of the largest opportunities in the market at this moment. You will see at least one slide on this subject in every one of my presentations. Social Casino Generates over 70% of its revenue in western, English speaking markets. The potential upside from emerging markets is very large and some companies have built their entire strategy around it. In this talk Vincenc the founder and CEO of Akamon (a company which developer social casino games specifically for the spanish speaking markets) gives a general overview of this opportunity in emerging markets.

 


When is Online Gaming Online Gambling? Louis Castle. No series about Social Casino can ignore the question of regulation. This is a subject that is highly debated in the social casino and social gaming industries alike. In this talk Louis Castle reviews some of the core definitions of what is gambling and what isnt.

 


Top 10 Ways Social Casino Games Increase Engagement and Retention Using Push Messaging. Itay Levy, Appoxee. Mobile Marketing Automation has become an important tool in the mobile industry in general and even more so in the Social Casino Industry. In this talk, Itay reviews some best practices of mobile marketing automation in the social casino industry and in the process, shares some important data points and benchmarks about the industry.

 

State of the Social Casino Industry Q4 2014.

Last week, I gave my quarterly State of the Social Casino lecture at Casual Connect Amsterdam. Below are my slides laying out the most recent trends and realities in the Social Casino Industry.

 

Pic of the main hall at CC15

cc151

Yoni Ushin, VP Creative @ Playtika discussing Slotomania’s design principals

Slotomania has gone through many design iterations over the years. In a short lecture given by Yoni Ushin Playtika’s VP Creative, he discuses some of the design principals that have gone into the game. This should interest those of you who are in the social casino niche as Yoni and his team constantly set the standard for the market!


Why Windows 10 could be a Game Changer for the Gaming Industry

I am constantly on the prowl for the next big platform here at Playtika. One of our biggest strengths is our spread across a diverse list of platforms. We are currently live on 4 mobile platforms (iOS, Android, Amazon and Windows Phone) and 8 web based ones including Facebook, Yahoo Games, Yahoo Mobage, Odnoklasniki and more. We have been live on Windows Phone for over a year and we are very happy on almost all fronts except the fact that its lacking scale. In terms of in-game KPI’s I can say that its one of our best performing platforms.

Although we are very happy with the results of Windows Phone, Microsoft is pretty much a non-relevant actor when it comes to the global the app economy. It missed the mobile boat a long time ago to Apple and Google and some have even predicted their inevitable global decline as a result. I believe that Microsoft’s influence on the app economy is about to change and Windows 10 is how they are going to change it.

No one really loves talking about PCs anymore, it’s all about mobile mobile mobile. Though PC growth is no where close to mobile growth, PCs are far from dead and are not going anywhere in the foreseeable future. We (those in the mobile industry) tend to forget or ignore that there are an estimated 1.8-2.0 billion PCs on the global market and that Microsoft still owns over a 90% percent of that market.

2015/01/img_3395.jpg

  

In comes Windows 10…

Windows 10 will be the first operating system that will power PCs, Tablets, and Phones as a universal OS. There has been allot of coverage about Windows 10 over the last few weeks but I’m focusing today only on the Universal App store feature of Windows 10 because I think it has the greatest potential from the gaming markets perspective.

The vision as it has been laid out by Microsoft is simple and powerful. Every PC that will install Windows 10 (which they will be giving away for free to existing users) will include a native app store right on the desktop. Since Windows owns over 90% of the global market, the potential for Microsoft to become an app distributor is immense.

IMG_3399

Imagine being able to download a native app like Slotomania, Candy Crush, Instagram, or any other app that is on the Windows app Store. It seems trivial but the reality is that this can open up a whole new world for developers and give them direct access to ~2.0 Billion PC users that currently don’t really engage Microsoft as an “app supplier/distributor”. Just the fact that Microsoft owns the real estate on PC screens gives it a big competitive advantage that neither Google nor Apple can rival in a substantial manner.

Apple and Google have already done some of the work for Microsoft and have “educated consumers” to download apps from app stores. It seems only logical to me that it will come very naturally to users to engage an app store on the PC. The potential would multiply were Microsoft able to convince (or even mandate) that users to enter their credit card info for future in-app purchases. Of course this is a potential game changer not just for the games industry but for the downloadable software industry as a whole.

Microsoft has many challenges ahead of them to make this a reality, including convincing developers to develop apps for the Windows App Store and convincing end users to upgrade to Windows 10 – but from what I’m seeing Microsoft has its Mojo back and selling the potential of a new distribution channel on PC with a 1.8 Billion user base will be easier than doing so for Windows Phone. We will soon be downloading apps to our PC from the Windows Store and will be thinking “Why the hell didn’t they do this earlier?”