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Great Immigrants

Alon Cohen
Cofounder and President, Houzz
Born in:
Israel

In 2006 Alon Cohen and his wife, Adi Tatarko, bought an old ranch house in Palo Alto, California, that they hoped to turn into a dream home for them and their young sons. Cohen, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and computer science and an MBA, both from Tel Aviv University, was working as a senior director of engineering at eBay at the time. Cohen met Tatarko, a fellow Israeli, on a 15-hour bus ride in Thailand, where he had traveled after completing his military service. The time flew by pleasantly as the new acquaintances chatted on that bus in Thailand — the exact opposite, some years later, of their home renovation project in Palo Alto. This difficult and stressful undertaking dragged on for years; however, it sparked an idea. With Cohen focused on coding and Tatarko working on building the community, the couple began developing a web solution that would bring professionals and clients together in the massive but until then largely offline home renovation and design market. Launched in 2009, Houzz enables home professionals to post portfolios of their work so consumers are able to find professionals who can help them bring their home improvement and interior design visions to life. Today, Houzz hosts over 2.3 million professionals and attracts 40 million unique visitors each month. It also allows consumers to purchase a variety of products directly through the site. Valued at around $4 billion, Houzz has expanded to Europe and Asia and employs more than 1,800 people. Cohen is committed to giving his entire team the same opportunity to innovate and build something that he and Tatarko experienced when they created Houzz: “When we are thinking about how to build the culture in the company, it’s really important to us to empower people.… That means that everybody in the company should feel like they can create stuff from scratch and they will have a chance to push it forward.”