“I live in a nerd’s Disneyland. I am the Robin Hood of the Internet, a Yoda who fights against
Adam Singolda (40), founder and CEO of Taboola
“Children raised during Covid-19 think that every parent works from home. My children think their father works in a room in the house. When Taboola went public nine months ago, I did everything from my home, from my kids’ lego room. I have never even met a single investor in person. My young daughter, Elinor, who is one and a half years old, grew up with her father always at home. Now if I need to fly from Israel to New York for meetings, she gets mad, yells “I don’t love you”. She doesn’t understand what is happening. »
Your wife, Victoria, is also used to having her partner around. You wrote in a Facebook post that you liked waking up before her and watching her sleep.
“I wake up and before I even check my phone or go for a run I say thank you she’s here and I look at her. She’s sleeping like an angel. I look at her then I jump out of bed. My job is like a Disneyland for nerds, and I always like to create something new. You have to do that in a relationship as well, do new things that you’ve never done before.
You met your wife in New York.
“Yes. She is a New Yorker from a Polish family. We met in 2010 through friends, a year after I moved. She converted to Judaism for me, but also because that she felt very connected to Israel and Judaism. We wanted to have a house with one spirit, where we practiced Judaism, and had kiddush on Friday nights, fasted on Yom Kippur, etc. She owns a florist that she’s been holding on for years and she’s working like crazy. Every morning she runs to the farmer’s market to pick up the flowers. She’s the best at what she does.
She doesn’t have to work.
“I don’t like this language. That’s how rich people talk. We don’t think or act like that. I think it’s amazing that she’s been running this business for years.
And you speak three languages at home.
“Victoria and her mother talk to each other in Polish. The children speak English during the day and in the evening she reads them stories in Polish. I only speak to them in Hebrew. And she accepts the fact that she has no idea what I’m telling our kids. During dinner time, for example, my son Oz, who is four years old, starts telling us a story in English, then switches to Hebrew, then back to English. He thinks everything is the same. So Victoria learns a little Hebrew, and the children teach her a little.
Did you have to move to New York?
“I knew I had to move, but I didn’t know when until one of our early investors, Zvi Limon, said to me, ‘There will never be a good time. Get up and do it. I moved to New York two years after founding Taboola, and I had to because I had employees who took care of websites and advertisements, and New York is the media capital. It’s also a much more fun place to live than San Francisco, CA, which I find boring. And in New York, everyone is an immigrant and has an accent, so you immediately feel at home and fit in perfectly. It is also much closer to Israel. The time difference between the east coast and the west coast is small, but it is significant in terms of working hours and flight time.
How did this move affect your Israeli identity?
“I feel at home everywhere I go. And I also tried very hard to act like an Israeli in America and not the other way around. I don’t just talk to my children in Hebrew, I also read Hebrew books to them, joke with them in Hebrew, watch Israeli children’s TV shows with them, and we listen to Israeli music at home. It’s really us against the world. I don’t think I will ever speak to my children in English.
What have you learned from your personal life as the son of famous Israeli guitarist Avi Singolda?
“I will always feel like the son whose father was blessed by God. My father is also an amazing father and grandfather. He never knew how much milk cost, but he always loved music, and I learned from him how to fall in love with anything. When we were traveling overseas and he wasn’t playing, he would walk into a guitar shop and go crazy. I hope the people I love and I can keep doing what we love. My mother, on the other hand, always knows what the price of milk is. I’m a combination of both: I know how much things cost, but I also try to forget it sometimes and I’m somewhere on the spectrum between knowing what’s going on and being completely out of the loop. I have to keep my dreams in mind and believe that anything is possible.
While you’re dreaming, your stock has dropped almost 50% – from $13 to just $5 per share.
“We are now focused on the business, and the positive momentum we are seeing is exciting. We only look at the long-term stock price and try to think like Yoda. The market follows good companies perfectly, and that’s why I care less about our share price and prefer not to lose a client. It really kills me, it makes me cry. That’s what we’re fighting for: retaining our customers. Every day we fight like it’s the last day of the company. We check how long it takes us to respond to customer emails, how to deal with employees who have problems, and what happens when you’re not in the room. We want to create a corporate culture that will appeal to customers.
So where do dreams come in?
“My life is like Disneyland for nerds. Every quarter I can create a new product without asking the world what they think about it. That’s how we got into the video business: we developed a product for Samsung competing with Apple News, because we thought it was interesting. Taboola is really a startup among many small startups. It’s endless.
So how do you let your brain rest?
“I believe in cherishing the little moments. I don’t believe in annual two-week vacations, but many little vacations. Even everyday things, like giving my kids a bath, running a little every days, drinking a glass of wine, playing with legos is enough.I think ordinary people should do things that make them happy and keep them sane.
What’s your deal with legos?
“It’s the idea of creating something, it’s building something with your hands, and that excites me. It allows me to talk to my kids, not just about what we’re building, but about everything – both good and bad, and behavior. I told Oz that Yoda has been a Jedi Master since he studied Hebrew and numbers for 600 years, and now he wants to learn the entire Aleph-Bet so he can be like Yoda.
And it doesn’t bother you?
“Being bored is healthier than being constantly overstimulated. It’s important that I give my kids that opportunity to be bored, just like we used to stay up after meals on Friday nights and talk until at midnight. Why is it so hard these days? It’s one of the reasons I love Taboola, because we’re building a Facebook alternative that doesn’t suck you into social media but only shows you content you’re interested in. I feel a bit like the Robin Hood of the Internet, or like Yoda battling the bad guys.