Posted inBusiness & Development, Business & Tech, Lifestyle

San Antonio Tech PR Pioneer Dies in Israeli Accident

Alan Weinkrantz with a colleague in Tel Aviv. Courtesy photo.

Weinkrantz, 63, was one of the earliest members of Geekdom and a relentless advocate for San Antonio’s evolving tech sector. He was an avid Rivard Report supporter and a frequent contributor. Less than one month ago, on May 21, a commentary he authored, Creating Your Own Reality in San Antonio, drew wide readership and appreciation for Weinkrantz’s unapologetic homage to his hometown and the authenticity of its culture.

Links to other articles authored by Weinkrantz appear at the end of this article.

“He saw the potential of Geekdom from day one. He was an important mentor to young companies in helping them have a voice on social media.  He wanted to bring out the potential in the Geekdom startups,” said Graham Weston, Rackspace co-founder and chairman. “Only four weeks ago, Alan was so proud to show me around the Tel Aviv startup scene.  He introduced me to two enthusiastic founders at the TechStars program there. They are both thankful for Alan’s mentorship as an American social media expert.”

Alan Weinkrantz. Courtesy photo.
Alan Weinkrantz: 1953-2016. Courtesy photo.

Weinkrantz never took himself too seriously, which made him approachable for younger tech workers at startups at Geekdom. On his LinkedIn profile he identified himself as “El Presidente of Alan Weinkrantz and Company.”

“My Dad loved the San Antonio startup and tech scene, and he loved being part of it,” said his son Aaron, a bike messenger in New York City. “He really loved San Antonio and he wanted to be part of all the good things happening there.”

Weinkrantz’s daughter Lauren, a recent UTSA graduate now working in banking in New York, said their father taught them to pursue their passions and not worry about conforming.

“Free your mind, do what you want, change the world,” Lauren said, “That’s what he taught us. He was totally out there. How  do we relate to the world, the Internet of things, how do we connect things, ideas and advance humanity. He died doing the work he loved.”

Nick Longo, a Corpus Christi-based tech entrepreneur who founded and later co-founded Geekdom with Weston, posted this note on Facebook Saturday night:

“My heart is broken. One of my dearest friends & one of the 1st Geekdom members, Alan Weinkrantz, has passed away in Tel Aviv today. Please donate to Alan’s family with his memorial fund here if you can.”

Lorenzo Gomez, the current CEO of Geekdom where Weinkrantz was a familiar father figure to many young tech entrepreneurs, posted this note on Facebook Saturday:

“It is with great sadness I announce that my dear friend and one of Geekdom’s first members, Alan Weinkrantz, passed away today in Tel Aviv. Alan was a mentor to many in the Geekdom community including myself. Alan will be missed by many. Please support Alan’s family by donating to the memorial fund set up to cover funeral arrangements.”

Weinkrantz was an outlier, twice the age of the average Geekdom member yet his experience promoting tech reached back decades before the advent of social media to a time when most people didn’t think of tech as something that would come to dominate and disrupt just about every aspect of work and life.

Weinkrantz loved nothing more than spending an unscheduled hour or two in the work day informally talking about how tech was changing the world, business, and his hometown.

He had worked for Rackspace in Israel, and at the time of his death was a senior adviser and brand ambassador for James Brehm & Associates. This Weinkrantz video was posted on Brehm’s Facebook page on June 15.

Weinkrantz, who was divorced and the devoted father of two grown children, Lauren and Aaron, both of whom attended public schools in Alamo Heights, thrived in the latest chapter of his professional career, dividing his time between Tel Aviv and San Antonio, two cities he loved dearly.

A Dallas native, Weinkrantz posted this note earlier this year after a chance encounter at the storied King David Hotel in Tel Aviv with Gov. Greg Abbott:

“As a native Texan, born in Dallas, and whereas San Antonio has been my home for 30 years, I was pleased to connect in Jerusalem with Texas Governor, Greg Abbott this morning at The King David Hotel in Jerusalem. The Governor was in Israel to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and business leaders to advance business and economic ties and direct investment in Texas. He will then be headed to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Myself being from San Antonio, we touched on subjects like Geekdom, Techstars Cloud, and Accelerate H2O — ?all programs which have great potential and ties with Israel’s startup and innovation economy….”

Weinkrantz kibitzing with Gov. Abbott on San Antonio’s startup scene perfectly capture his personality as salesman and evangelist for the city and its tech scene. And his local knowledge was encyclopedic, reaching back to the Datapoint era. He was into computers before most people had seen a desktop computer.

This is from his LinkedIn profile:

“Beginning with the start of the personal computer revolution in the late 1970s I am privileged to have been a part of the evolution of voice and data networking, internet cafes, computer security, the genesis of VoIP and WiFi, and many more transformational technologies and industry standards that are now considered mainstream, and very much a part of our daily lives.

“I help tech and startup companies on PR and Communications Strategies. After 35 years of having run my own agency, taking a Sabbatical, serving as the Brand Ambassador to Israel for Rackspace, I’ve recently returned to providing strategic advisory services.”

When Weinkrantz was home in San Antonio, he loved spending time in Geekdom, meeting with young developers and others involved in startups. He especially liked connecting with people engaged in digital marketing and media communications.

Stephanie Guerra, better known to thousands in San Antonio as the prolific social media promoter Puro Pinche, posted this note on Facebook after learning of Weinkrantz’s death:

“My heart is so sad at the news that Alan Weinkrantz has passed away. I will never understand how he watched over so many of us with as busy and interesting of a life that he lived. I’ll never forget all the unsolicited advice he gave me, and the one time he stopped me at SXSW a few years ago… He knew everything about Puro Pinche even though we had never really discussed it, he gave me the best advice, he told me to think as big as I possibly could and take my brand worldwide, to never hold back or let anything get in the way, not just to dream big but to actually DO it. From time to time I always remind myself that I need to prove Alan right. I know he helped so many people in every way possible and I can’t help but be sad because I know he had so much left to do and give. You and your social media posts will be dearly missed Alan!

Please support his family with funeral expenses, just as he has always supported us. ??”

My own wife, Monika Maeckle, worked with and competed for Weinkrantz’s business in the pre-Internet era. They started out as competitors who became friends and collaborators. We soon discovered we were neighbors. Weinkrantz, we soon learned, had a deep passion for the Beatles and music of the ’60s. He played guitar in a band, and generally pursued a lifestyle in total denial of his age and place in the Baby Boomer generation.

San Antonio tech PR pioneer Alan Weinkrantz with Nan Palmero of The Denim Group. Courtesy photo.
San Antonio tech PR pioneer Alan Weinkrantz with Nan Palmero of The Denim Group. Courtesy photo..

Forget what he wrote about the subject of tech for the Rivard Report. His most exciting moment was attending the Paul McCartney concert at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts to review the performance for the Rivard Report. Art Garfunkel, Dave Mason, Ringo Starr – Weinkrantz grooved on his sideline as vintage artist music reviewer for the Rivard Report.

(Read more: McCartney Makes His Mark at the Tobin Center)

Here at the Rivard Report, Alan was a frequent visitor to our offices on his trips home and always an ardent supporter. He was not an avid writer, but he was a great evangelist. The advent of the downtown Tech District on East Houston Street thrilled him, and he last remarked to me that, “San Antonio was a city that is starting to look and feel different every time I leave it and then come back. But it hasn’t lost any of its authenticity.”

One of the last people to connect with Weinkrantz was Tech Bloc CEO David Heard, who received a congratulatory text from Weinkrantz Friday after the first anniversary rally at the Pearl Stable.

“My heart is breaking,” Heard said Saturday night.  “Alan was my PR agent for the last 15 years, and a good friend. He was a real talent. And the most gentle of souls. He loved San Antonio, and was proud to say he choose to live here and build a career inside our emergent tech industry, when logic might have suggested a different place to build his career. He died doing what he loved: traveling to engage with startups, connect people, and tell their stories.”

On this Saturday, San Antonio’s tech family and, indeed, the city has lost a friend, a pioneer, an advocate, and a good man.

Click here to donate to the Weinkrantz family memorial fund, which will help pay for funeral arrangements.

 This story was originally published on Sunday, June 19.

Top image: Alan Weinkrantz. Courtesy photo.

Related Stories:

Startups in Nazareth: We Are All From Here

Adventures in Israel, the ‘Startup Nation’

An Evening of Song, Poetry and Healing with Art Garfunkel at the Tobin 

An Evening of Magic, Light, Color, and Love with Ringo Starr And His All-Starr Band

Review: McCartney Makes His Mark at the Tobin Center 

Home in the Tobin Center, Performing Arts Groups Strive to Collaborate

The Next 25 Years – Welcome to Weinkrantz’s World

Robert Rivard, co-founder of the San Antonio Report who retired in 2022, has been a working journalist for 46 years. He is the host of the bigcitysmalltown podcast.