Blake Krikorian, a well-known and respected IT thought leader and Silicon Valley entrepreneur, died Aug. 3, apparently of a heart attack while surfing near San Francisco. He was 48.
Krikorian was the co-founder, CEO and chairman of Foster City, Calif.-based Sling Media, which he launched in June 2004 with his brother, Jason. The Krikorians later sold the company to Echostar Communications in 2007 for $380 million.
Sling Media provides multiscreen smart TV solutions for consumers and television operators. It makes Slingbox, a device that enables users to watch television on multiple screens within a residence.
This shouldn’t be confused with Sling TV, a subsidiary of Dish Network, which makes live cable TV available in a subscription-based package for over-the-top (out of standard cable provider) viewing. The similar names and use cases undoubtedly have caused consternation between the two companies.
Described as One of Silicon Valley’s ‘Savviest’ Executives
“Considered one of tech’s savviest execs with regard to video and media distribution, Krikorian was also one of its most ebullient characters and was never shy about expressing his opinion about anything,” Re/Code principal Kara Swisher wrote in a story that broke the news Aug. 4.
After the Krikorians sold Sling Media, Blake became an active angel investor, served on the board of Amazon and worked for a time as the head of Microsoft’s interactive entertainment business. This was after Microsoft bought another company he founded, id8 Group R2 Studios, which developed home automation products.
More recently, Krikorian helped raise funding and develop startups, such as Clipboard, Chirply, Lytro, Kno and Tasty Labs. He also was an investor in Clicker, which was sold to CBS, and FreeWheel, which he sold to Comcast.
Reactions From Friends on Social Media
A number of his friends and acquaintances expressed their grief in the social networks. Here are some examples:
Jason Hirschhorn, former co-president of MySpace.com: “Infinite reasons why Blake was so special. I loved that he loved an unfair fight. He always rooted for the underdog and loved being one.”
Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn: “Gutted. Blake was so full of life; as generous of heart as he was intelligent & creative. He’ll be deeply missed.”
Mark Pincus, founder of Zynga and Support.com: “Devastating news. Such an awesome guy. Hard to imagine.”
Eric Hippeau, founder of TechTV: “What a loss: Blake was more than a visionary entrepreneur, he was a genuinely nice, caring member of our community.”
Krikorian is survived by his wife, Cathy, and two daughters. Services were pending as of Aug. 5.