Sadly, it seems to so often happen that the people most inspiring or most gifted are lost to the world in their prime. From the 27-club for musicians or the assassination of presidents or notable figures, the 20th century was filled with deaths of famous people. But, even this new century has brought its tragedies of influential figures, this time in the tech world.
There are many more to name, but here is a compiled list of the 5 most inspiring tech entrepreneurs who died in the 21st century:
- Steve Jobs: Apple, Inc.
When his death occurred in 2011 from pancreatic cancer, it was all over the news. This man had done the seemingly impossible and pioneered the amazing tech trend of personal computers. He co-founded Apple and will go down in history as the iPhone man. The little machine that keeps us all mesmerized daily, and he was the one who invented it. He had the dream to transform technology and make it relevant for this century. He did just that. Imagine a life without iTunes, iPads, or Apple Music?
In 2007, Jobs brought the touch-screen iPhone to the world, and the world has never looked back. Coming from slightly meager beginnings by growing up with adoptive parents, Jobs was able to create a long-lasting impression upon the world.
Jobs co-founded Apple with Steve Wozniak in 1976, and they most likely didn’t envision the unbelievable success they would have. His net worth ended up being around 7 billion.
Jobs left Apple in 1985 but returned about ten years later. In the interim, Jobs was busy founding Pixar Animation Studios. Imagine the movie world without this! He later sold that successful company to Disney in 2006. Unfortunately, Jobs had a long battle with cancer that ended in 2011, but his impression is definitely left upon the world.
- Blake Krikorin: Sling Media
Blake Krikorin died at age 48 in 2016. He passed away from a heart attack while surfing in San Francisco. Krikorin was best known for his role as CEO and founder of Sling Media (with his brother Jason). He also co-founded Philips Computing Group in 1994, a company that developed the extremely successful Velo 1 Windows CE Handheld PC.
Once he sold his Slingbox device product for around 400 million, he moved on to what he preferred to do. He enjoyed working as an advisor to other companies as well as investing in other companies and inventing new products. He invested in Amazon, worked for Microsoft briefly, and he helped invest in other startup companies such as Chirply, Tasty Labs, and Lyrto. He is also known for his open personality and desire to continue to work with technology, coming up with fresh ideas. Before his death, he was working on adding useful wireless technology in his own home! The Silicon Valley was sad to lose such a capable and inventive tech entrepreneur.
- Jody Sherman: Ecomom
On January 28, 2013, tech entrepreneur Jody Sherman committed suicide five days before his 47th birthday. Everyone he knew was devastated. How could someone with such a sense of humor do such a thing? And, he did it without informing anyone or leaving any kind of note. Police found his body in a car along the road where he had shot himself in the head.
Sherman was most likely best known as founder of Ecomom, an e-commerce startup company that sells safe baby-products to mothers. Interestingly enough, Sherman had no children himself, so it was tough to find investors in his new company. Previously, Sherman had founded another company named Comedy World, which then failed, so he tried to found another company, this time in aviation. That was acquired by Virgin, who he worked for two years.
Then, after that he decided to found Ecomom, believing in the cause to help mothers find safe and healthy products for their children. But, once Sherman’s suicide came out, so did the financial woes of his famous company.
Unfortunately, after a successful run of raising enough money for the startup and selling products, Ecomom was broke, and many believe that was the reason for his suicide. Sherman kept all financial information to himself and didn’t even discuss finance with his business partner. After his death, the partners met together to discuss the state of the company. And, they couldn’t seem to figure out where the millions ended up. But, despite its financial issues, Ecomom was an amazing resource for mothers who wanted a place to find safe and healthy products to use for their babies, and that is all thanks to the inspiration of Jody Sherman.
- Charles Wang: CA Technologies
Out of all the names mentioned in this article, Charles Wang died most recently. He was the former owner of a successful tech company. Unfortunately, he died in October of this year from lung cancer. Wang founded Computer Associates International in 1976. Today, this company is called CA Technologies and remained as the CEO and chairman until 2000. This company gives back to the community by helping promote technological learning for children interested in the field and gives money in support for technology programs.
He also decided to buy the New York Islanders hockey team in 2000 for about 190 million dollars along with a partner Sanjay Kumar. Kumar was the president of Wang’s company, but he was later convicted of fraud and served some time in prison. At one point, Wang was also accused, but he was acquitted.
Wang had not been known as a hockey fan before this purchase having only been to one Islanders game, but he wanted to do something for the Long Island sports community. He was dedicated to that, and he had plans to build it up to make the community proud. But then said he regretted this purchase because of how much money he lost. He sold the team in 2016. Wang was well-known as a kind, philanthropic man who founded a very successful company and will be remembered fondly by his friends, co-workers, and family.
- Antoine Paquin: Skystone Systems
This Canadian entrepreneur committed suicide on May 23, 2017, and he was famous in Ottawa for his success and contributions in the tech world. Sadly, Paquin had been suffering from numerous mental and emotional problems before his suicide, despite his overwhelming success. Many were surprised by his suicide because of how successful Paquin had been and what accomplishments he had achieved. And, sadly Paquin wasn’t convinced of his illness until closer to his death.
Paquin’s success came early in life. His first startup was Skystone Systems, which he founded at the age of 28, and he moved on to other startups later and joined in investing as well. He was responsible for Ottawa’s tech boom. Skystone Systems was a company producing products to help with data connectivity, and it paved the way for other tech startups to flourish in the Ottawa area.
Paquin sold his company in 1997 to Cisco Systems. But, Paquin’s family life suffered as a result of this long venture in the business world. He had sacrificed his time and energy at the expense of his family’s own comfort.
After he sold to Cisco, Paquin started selling his shares to start other companies, which unfortunately were not as successful as Skystone Systems had been. And, of course, his mental state was unstable, and it kept getting worse all the time. Paquin was not even aware of it or willing to admit it. But, despite his hardships, he will be known for his successes and the starting of the tech boom in Ottawa, which opened up many opportunities for other tech entrepreneurs.
There are many more inspiring people to name who have met their end in this century, but all of these entrepreneurs have contributed something important to the technology world, and they should be remembered. Whether they’ve inspired other entrepreneurs, provided money to support programs, invested in other startups, or were kind, selfless people who made a lasting impression on those around them, they have made a lasting contribution.
The 21st century is a time of technology, and the growth of the boom has been exponential. With people like this who have left behind their legacies and inspired others, this growth will continue.