AWS Elemental CEO Sam Blackman Dead at 41

Exec died over the weekend from apparent cardiac arrest, The Oregonian says (Updated)
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Sam Blackman, the founder of Elemental Technologies, a Portland, Ore.-based cloud video startup acquired by Amazon Web Services in 2015, died over the weekend “from apparent cardiac arrest,” The Oregonian reported. He was 41. 

Founded in 2006, Elemental Technologies tabulated a client list that included Comcast, Sky, HBO, DirecTV and CBS before it was acquired Amazon Web Services for $296 million. Elemental had almost 250 full-time employees at the time the deal was announced.

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Blackman stayed with the company as CEO following the deal. Elemental Technologies rebranded as AWS elemental in mid-April.

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AWS Elemental has been asked for comment. "Right now we are focused on supporting Sam's family,” the company said in a statement to The Oregonian, which noted that the company last week had moved into a new headquarters building located in downtown Portland. The paper added that Blackman was an “enthusiastic runner and ultimate disc player” and “typically biked to work at Elemental from his home in Northwest Portland.”

Update: The Blackman family released this statement on Tuesday: 

“Sam died peacefully yesterday surrounded by his loved ones. In his private life, he cherished his family, and in his public life he cherished his community and the business he founded, Elemental Technologies. He was a passionate advocate for community service who rallied so many towards a greater good for the environment, hunger, education and inclusion. We are thankful to all those who have shared their thoughts and prayers for Sam. We ask that you respect our privacy during this time of grief.”

Blackman’s company has been on the cutting edge of OTT and video streaming. In April at the NAB Show in Las Vegas, Blackman was on hand when AWS Elemental played a pivotal role in delivering a live 4K stream from the International Space Station that was a co-production of the vendor, NAB and NASA.  

Prior to co-founding Elemental, Blackman designed integrated circuit products for Pixelworks, and was previously an engineer at Silicon Graphics and Intel Corp. He earned an M.B.A. from University of Oregon, an M.S. in electrical engineering from University of California at Berkeley and a B.S. in electrical engineering from Brown University.

 Oregon Governor Kate Brown commented on Blackman’s passing, calling him a “beacon of Oregon’s tech community.”

"Sam brought energy, innovation, and jobs to an important and fast growing sector of Oregon's economy,” Brown added. “But, more importantly, he did so with a commitment to Oregon's values. As CEO of Elemental and later with Amazon, he led the company to grow financially while engaging civically on issues like education, hunger, and the environment. Sam's approach made Oregonians stronger while helping build the economy that they rely on. My heart is with his family and friends today, and I thank him for the important contributions he made to the entire state."

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