Alan Weinkrantz, a high-tech public relations executive and startup communications strategist based in both San Antonio, Texas and Israel was one of the victims of the tragic accident in Tel Aviv on Saturday when a car slammed into a restaurant.
Weinkrantz, an American citizen, had been sitting outdoors at the Chinese restaurant Furama when a car slammed into the seating area, killing the driver and two diners and injuring six. According to the San Antonio Express-News, the U.S. embassy informed Weinkrantz's son Aaron Weinkrantz of his father’s death on Saturday.
After his name was released on Sunday, tributes flooded social media from San Antonio and across the U.S. to Israel, where he traveled frequently for business for the past 25 years and had many colleagues. One friend wrote that Weinkrantz jokingly called Israel “the other Holy Land” — the first one being Texas.
Weinkrantz spent extensive periods of time in Israel in recent years, meeting with startups and participating in community events. From November 2014 until the beginning of this year, he consulted to the cloud computing firm Rackspace, helping the company develop a presence in Israel.
Weinkrantz’s role was to serve as an ambassador for the Rackspace brand in Israel and to work with startups on their own brands, the message that they were conveying and their media strategies. He wrote that he had worked with virtually every high-tech accelerator and cooperative work space in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, Nazareth and Be’er Sheva. He wrote blogs and opinion columns for the Times of Israel and the technology website Geektime.
Numerous Israelis saddened by his death wrote warmly of how Weinkrantz had helped and encouraged their efforts. Entrepreneur Nir Kouris described Weinkrantz as “Israel's biggest tech social media supporter,” and posted a recent Facebook Live clip he had spontaneously filmed at a recent conference because “I wanted the world to know Alan ... I like my friends and followers to see a good person — a great role model ... He was my mentor.”
Tal Givoly remembered him “always with a smile. Excited. Generous. I'm fortunate to have known Alan for 20 years and we even had an opportunity to work together 3 companies and spend time together. Such a great, honest, excited, generous person with such a big heart and soul.”
Weinkrantz had an extensive background in public relations, media and strategic communications. He ran a public relations firm for 33 years before deciding to take a two-year break, during which he traveled and did consulting.
“Having traveled back and forth to Israel for two decades and having been part of the first wave of startups that created the beginnings of VoIP [internet-based voice communications], IPTV [internet-based television], enterprise hardware and software, the rise of computer security, the tablet PC, and many other transformational technologies we take for granted every day, I wanted to return again to work in the startup ecosystem,” he wrote in January.
An online memorial fund set up to help cover his funeral expenses raised more than $5,000 in only a few hours.
The fatal accident that killed Weinkrantz occurred when the speeding driver lost control of the car, plowing into patrons sitting outside of Furama, a Chinese restaurant on the corner of Ben Yehuda and Idelson streets, according to a preliminary investigation. It is believed that the driver suffered a heart attack, causing him to lose control of the car.