News emerged earlier this week that Apple had acquired Israel-based fabless chip maker Anobit for as much as $500 million. Beyond the team and flash memory technology Apple will gain from the acquisition, the company reportedly plans to use the Anobit’s facilities as a research and development center. The deal is big for Apple on several levels — Anobit’s class-leading flash memory chips are already used in the iPhone, iPad and MacBook Air — but one former Apple executive believes fear was among the factors that motivated Apple to enter Israel, which is heralded by many as the “second Silicon Valley.”

“I think Apple is now entering Israel because of the loss of Jobs,” Eric Sirkin, a former senior director at Apple, told Israeli economic newspaper TheMarker in an interview. “Apple is afraid – it must be at the front of innovation. I believe that the company is now trying to inject innovation and Israel is part of the solution.”

Sirkin was with Apple for more than seven years in the nineties, having led a team within the company’s Macintosh unit. The executive managed the group responsible for creating FireWire technology as well as the Pippin, a low-cost computer designed to extend the Mac’s reach.

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