From left: Alan Weinkrantz, Jon Medved and American-Israeli internet entrepreneur Bob Rosenschein.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
When I first met Alan Weinkrantz almost 30 years ago, I took an immediate liking to him. The Texas drawl, the infectious sweetness, the tech savvy understanding of the start-up business, and the easy camaraderie of a natural born networker, were all that it took.
Back in the early ’90s, Alan was that rare person who could understand both how the press and technology worked and bring the two of them together. He was my go-to guy whenever I needed to get a story told, and he helped several of my start-ups break out and get noticed.
Before the Internet era, I was often asked: why are you working with a PR guy from San Antonio, Texas – isn’t that a bit off the beaten track? My reply was always: location doesn’t matter as much as the guy, and boy, was I right.
As Alan built his own personal network around the world, people came to trust him for his insight, his connections, and his ability to see the future earlier than most.
Along the way he fell in love with Israel; and he built his communications practice on a very unusual mix of Texas and Israeli start-ups.
Initially, he would visit Israel once a year or so, and insist on teaching Israeli start-ups the ins and outs of working with the media.
Over the years, hundreds of Israeli start-ups were beneficiaries of Alan’s wisdom and vast experience in this area.
Later on his trips became more frequent, and then he moved to Israel, getting an apartment and spending months at a time in his adopted country that he loved so much. With the birth of social media, Alan became even more of a fixture in my life and the life of Start-Up Nation. There were few people who more accurately and regularly reported on what was really going on here in Israel’s vibrant start up scene. As Saul Singer, author of Start-Up Nation, said: “Everyone here knew and loved Alan. If you did not know Alan, then you probably were not that well connected.”
Whenever you went to a tech- or Israel- oriented conference, whether in Israel, in America at South by South West in Austin, to the LA Israel conference, or to any Jeff Pulver event, Alan would inevitably pop up with a big hug, a bigger smile and a selfie at the ready. Some of my most interesting interviews were conducted with Alan on a street corner, in a restaurant, or driving in a car – all faithfully posted and continuing to build his online legend of cinema verité.
In the last few years, Alan became a bigger than life tech-evangelist for Rackspace, the cloud computing company. Never before was there such a perfect match between man and job. His role was to help Israeli companies get to the cloud by giving away packages of free services. He would start every meeting with a famous phrase of “I am here to help you,” or “how can I help you,” and he meant it seriously – not just offering his standard packages but by making introductions galore to investors, the press, and other companies and never asking anything in return.
Alan was a seriously fun guy to hang out with, and there was no better companion for a big meal – especially if it involved Mexican or Israeli cooking. I don’t think I ever saw Alan happier then when he was updating me about his two beloved children Aaron and Lauren. He was very proud of both of them, and especially that they had developed his love for Israel and had spent real time in the country.
It’s hard to believe that in a split second last night while eating a meal in Tel Aviv, Alan’s life came to a tragic end in one of the cities he so loved. True to his spirit, many of his friends were to meet in near real time in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem less than 24 hours after his passing, to tell stories and celebrate this remarkable man’s extraordinary life. While we are left with many memories of him online, I wish he could be there with us in person to break tortillas or pita and to give us each one of us just one more hug.
Yehi Zichro Baruch. May his memory be a blessing.The writer is founder and CEO of OurCrowd.