Blake Krikorian Dead at 48: Report

Blake Krikorian, a much-loved entrepreneur best known for leading place-shifting pioneer Sling Media, maker of the Slingbox, died Wednesday (August 3) at the age of 48.

Recode, the first to report of Krikorian’s death, noted that the cause of his death is still unconfirmed, but said Krikorian was “apparently struck by a heart attack while surfing in the San Francisco area.”

Jason Krikorian, who co-founded Sling Media, maker of the Slingbox, also posted word of Blake’s passing on his Facebook page: “As many of you may have heard, yesterday we lost a great man, Blake Krikorian. My brother. My best friend. My business partner. My mentor. My hero. A wonderful father and wife. A beloved friend to so many. I don't have the words to properly express my feelings, or those of his dear family. Thank you to all of the beautiful thoughts and messages to Cathy Krikorian and Blake's family.”

Sling Media made a big splash at CES in 2005 with the original Slingbox, a TV place-shifting device that allows consumers to access their pay TV subscriptions on multiple devices, and helped to establish the notion of “TV Everywhere” well before it was cemented into the industry’s lexicon. In many ways, a retail Slingbox still does more than any TVE app does today, providing access to a consumer's full pay TV subscription rather than a subset of it (TVE is still stymied by digitial distribution rights issues). 

EchoStar Communications acquired Sling Media in 2007 for $380 million (EchoStar split into two separate companies -- Dish Network and EchoStar Corp. -- in 2008). Dish later integrated Sling’s technology in its set-top boxes and now uses the core brand for  Sling TV, it’s OTT-TV service for cord-cutters. Sling Media, still part of EchoStar, continues to make and sell new generations of Slingbox devices and apps.

Of more recent note, Krikorian had been investing in startups such as VR specialist Jaunt, and serving as CEO of id8 Group R2 Studios, maker of home automation software, and was on the board of directors at Amazon.

Update: Gary Shapiro, president and CTO of The Consumer Technology Association (CTA), offered this statement: 

"Blake was an extraordinary entrepreneur and imaginative mind, who envisioned place-shifting content via the Slingbox. His innovative work lives on with the millions of people who enjoy the video content they purchased, no matter where they are in the world.

"Although he was always busy and successful, Blake volunteered on the CTA Board of Industry leaders and was always willing to volunteer by mentoring, judging startup competitions and donating to our political action committee. He achieved success at a very young age, but always remembered his roots and reached out to give a hand to those who needed it.

"Our condolences go out to his family, his friends and all those whose lives he touched."