Editor’s note: This interview was conducted before the death of Fuld’s brother, Ari, who was stabbed by a Palestinian terrorist on Sept. 16. Fuld tweeted shortly after Ari’s murder: “He lived as a hero and died as a hero. My big bro is gone. Thanks for the messages. Really. Just looking for oxygen now …”
In the summer of 2014, Steve Wozniak — the man who helped develop the personal computer — visited Israel for 24 hours. He invited Hillel Fuld, a keen-eyed, peppy Jerusalemite who takes the term “tech aficionado” to a new level, to a breakfast meeting at the David InterContinental in Tel Aviv. It was the height of the Gaza War, and in the middle of their meeting, a siren blared, warning of an incoming missile.
“I had to rush the founder of Apple to the bomb shelter,” Fuld breathlessly recounted. “It was so surreal.”
Wozniak is one of Fuld’s 34,200 followers on Twitter, along with Ellen DeGeneres, Yoko Ono, Ashton Kutcher, Arianna Huffington, Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey and a host of brands including Coca Cola, Tommy Hilfiger, United Airlines and Windows.
Today, Fuld is the strategic adviser to around 20 Israeli tech companies, advising on all things growth, from social media, content, PR and fundraising, to the art of pitching. He also collaborates with tech giants including Google, Oracle and Microsoft as a mentor and influencer.
“I help Israeli tech go ‘boom,’ ” is Fuld’s self-styled tagline.
When he was 15, Fuld made aliyah from Queens, N.Y., to Jerusalem. For as long as he can remember, he has had a passion for technology, although his wife prefers the term obsession. After completing his military service and receiving a degree in political science anthropology, Fuld wanted to pursue something in the tech arena. At the suggestion of a friend, he took a job as a technical writer at Comverse Technology but was totally unaware that the position entailed drafting user manuals.
Still, his experience at Comverse — which at the time was the biggest tech company in Israel — was invaluable, he said. At the same time, he began scribbling his thoughts on tech for what he called a “diary on the internet.”
“Today we call that a blog and it turns out that was set to become a thing,” Fuld noted. He amassed a large following and entrepreneurs soon began approaching him for advice. He had no business model and refused to take a dime. “People kept telling me to monetize but I said no. I’m happy to help and money will follow,” he said.
He kept his job at Comverse and blogged on the side. “In time, those two things merged and my job became my passion and my passion became my job,” he said.
“Now I’m living my dream,” Fuld said. “I wake up in the morning, I head to Tel Aviv and meet with truly legendary entrepreneurs who are building world-changing technology. It still makes me pinch myself that they’re taking my advice.”
He credits Twitter for contributing to his success. “I was able to leverage Twitter’s culture of openness 10 levels above what I ever could have dreamed of,” he said. Through the social media giant, Fuld met and interviewed his idol, Marc Andreessen, the billionaire entrepreneur credited with inventing the first web browser. He also met his teenage crush, “Who’s the Boss?” actor Alyssa Milano, with whom he talks regularly. He was recently named the 15th most influential tech blogger on the internet.
“The amount of influence that you can have sitting in your living room wherever you are in the world is phenomenal,” he said.
Fuld is selective about the companies he chooses to work with but said the most important aspect is the people. “At the end of the day, technology doesn’t win, people win.”
Where does he plan to go from here?
“If I won the lottery tomorrow, I wouldn’t change a thing,” he said.