Rolling Out founder and diversity advocate Hank Williams dead at 50

Hank Williams
Source: Twitter / @HankWilliams

Renowned technology entrepreneur and diversity advocate Hank Williams has died at the age of 50.

Williams died Nov. 15 after a weeklong stay at the Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey. He was being treated for complications from pneumonia and myocarditis, which can be caused by a viral heart infection.

In 1998, Williams founded the Internet music company, Clickradio, and the cloud storage and data management minded Kloudco in 2008. 2012 saw him create, a nonprofit company focusing on getting more minorities and women involved in the tech industry.

Platform created a partnership with Morehouse College and Level Playing Field Institute that set out to increase the number of minority high school and college students interested in computer science. “The lack of diversity in the innovation economy is one of the most pressing issues of our time,” Williams wrote in guest column for USA Today.

Hank Williams and Quincy Jones watermark
Hank Williams and Quincy Jones at the first PLATFORM conference at the MIT Media Lab

“He was a really passionate person. He was always happy,” said colleague Angela Benton, founder of San Francisco-based tech accelerator platform, NewME. “Not just about his work in the technology space but about diversifying technology and equality in the industry.”

Benton and Williams were a part of the very first NewME accelerator program back in 2011 and lived together in Silicon Valley with six other entrepreneurs. The group was featured on CNN’s “Black In America: The New Promised Land — Silicon Valley.”

Soledad O’Brien, who hosted the special, remembered Williams on Twitter as “a real leader and kind human being.”

Williams is survived by his wife and daughter.

Some of Williams’ colleagues and friends paid tribute to him in a series of tweets. Read them below.




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