Hank Williams, Diversity Advocate and Tech Entrepreneur, Dies at 50

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Supporters of increasing diversity in the technology industry are mourning the loss of a veteran entrepreneur at the forefront of the issue.

Hank Williams, 50, a resident of New York City, died Sunday at Newark (N.J.) Beth Israel Medical Center after a weeklong hospital stay. He was being treated for complications from pneumonia and myocarditis, which can be caused by a viral infection of the heart. He is survived by his wife and daughter.

Williams founded Internet music company Clickradio in 1998 and cloud storage and data management platform Kloudco in 2008. In 2012, he founded Platform.org, a non-profit group aimed at increasing the interest and participation of blacks, Latinos and women in the tech industry. Platform’s annual event, first held at the MIT Media Lab in Cambridge, Mass., has been hosted by Morehouse College in Atlanta over the past two years.

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

Benton and Williams were among eight entrepreneurs who lived together in Silicon Valley for nine weeks in 2011 as part of the first NewME accelerator program, founded by Benton and Wayne Sutton. CNN chronicled their experience the special Black In America: The New Promised Land — Silicon Valley four years ago.

“A real leader and kind human being,” was how Soledad O’Brien, who anchored the special, characterized Williams on Twitter Sunday.

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Source: USA Today |  Mike Snider