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Beloved Silicon Valley entrepreneur Blake Krikorian has died at 48

The Slingbox founder had been involved with Microsoft, Amazon and dozens of startups.

Blake Krikorian, longtime and much-beloved Silicon Valley entrepreneur, died yesterday. While the cause of his death is still unconfirmed, he was apparently struck by a heart attack while surfing in the San Francisco area.

The news of his passing has slowly been making its way this morning through the tech network that he was a big part of. Krikorian was only 48.

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.

I cannot tell you how many times he would call me after I posted a story to tell me what I had gotten right and wrong, voice booming. But it was always with a devilish twinkle and giant smile, because Krikorian always got the sometimes silly farce of the tech world, as well as its important impact.

When we were on the set of HBO’s “Silicon Valley” taping a show set at the conference Walt Mossberg and I do called Code, Krikorian — who was playing himself hanging around in our fake green room — was relentlessly teasing us about the ridiculousness of us mocking ourselves. All I remember of him from that day was his deep and sustained laughter, because whatever he did, Krikorian always seemed to enjoy himself immensely.

His favorite topic, of course, was how the whole Hollywood and Silicon Valley relationship was faring. He loved that intersection and spent his life dedicated to grokking how to make it work. But he still managed to keep an almost childlike wonder about the strides that had been made in media delivery.

I’ll never forget him geeking out with my two young sons at his really tricked-out home theater, testing some new 3-D product, as hopped up as they were on the coolness of it. (After that much fun, my elder son jokingly asked Blake to adopt him.)

Krikorian was perhaps best known as the CEO of Sling Media, which he founded with his brother Jason. He debuted it at our AllThingsD conference in 2004, in fact, as you can see from the photo below.

Blake Krikorian debuts Slingbox at D2

The device maker of the Slingbox (here is Mossberg’s rave review) was acquired by EchoStar in 2007 for close to $400 million, but Krikorian did not stay long in the corporate environment. In fact, he once regaled me about how he could not even order water for his staff at the annual CES show without forms in triplicate.

He became an active angel investor, served on the board of Amazon and also did a stint as the head of Microsoft’s interactive entertainment business after it bought another company he founded and led called id8 Group R2 Studios that worked on home automation.

Most recently, he had moved to what he loved best — tinkering as a tireless entrepreneur — as well as investing.

Those include some promising startups, such as Lytro, Kno, Clipboard, Chirply and Tasty Labs. Krikorian also invested in Clicker, which was sold to CBS and, more recently, FreeWheel, which sold to Comcast.

His latest focus remained on home automation, which has been a personal interest for some time, including wiring (or, more precisely, wireless-ing) up his own house in a variety of ever more complex digital experiments.

He once told me he began to outfit his home using Apple devices and then switched to Google’s Android operating system since the software was easier and more extensible to develop on.

Most importantly, Krikorian made deep friendships all over the sector and was a tireless supporter in those relationships. He was one of the people who helped his former partner, Jason Hirschhorn, recover after his emergency heart surgery last year.

Krikorian is survived by his wife Cathy and two daughters. His death leaves them, and all of Silicon Valley really, devastated.

(I will update this to reflect any information about a memorial event for Krikorian and can pass along any condolences sent to me to the family.)

This article originally appeared on

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