New Armenia, New Perspectives

By Ashot Arzumanyan

Back on May 22nd, I received an email from Jack Selby of Thiel Capital: “BTW, Armenian tech scene received some great press over the weekend in the NYT, which I am sure you are aware of.” He was referring of course to The New York Times article Behind Armenia’s Revolt, Young Shock Troops from the Tech Sector. In those epic days, the tech community, together with students, strongly backed the peaceful velvet revolution in Armenia. The result was fall of the old regime and the birth of New Armenia - The Economist’s country of the year 2018.

Parallel to the positive change in sentiment within the country, there is a growth in interest within the diaspora about engaging with Armenia not just for cultural or touristic reasons but as a society and economy for ongoing investment, growth and inspiration.

In October 2017 we published Armenian startup ecosystem: open secrets, big opportunities. This article is intended to provide a high level review of the developments since then in the light of emerging new trends and opportunities.

Two decades of consistent growth in retrospect

Armenian tech marked 27%+ consistent annual growth for last two decades. Once the Silicon Valley of Soviet Union which accounted for 30% of Soviet military electronics innovation, Armenian tech faced years of brain drain and struggles in the 1990s.

Nevertheless, diasporan pioneers Adam Kablanian, Al Eisaian, Sam Simonian, Berge Ayvazian and others realized the potential of the talent in Armenia and started successful businesses based on R&D of Armenian talent.  

This sparked the Armenian tech revival and resulted in the presence of multinational tech corporations in Armenia.  Back in 2006, Armenian tech was a tiny $71M industry - 1% of Armenia’s GDP. In 2017, the tech sector reached $765M or 7% of the GDP.  Meanwhile, the tech workforce annual productivity is $50K (2017) which is 12.5x more than the country’s GDP per capita.

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Banner photo: Made in Armenia (2016)

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