Tech Innovator and Diversity Advocate Hank Williams Dies at 50

CNN screenshot
CNN screenshot

Hank Williams, a champion for diversity in technology who worked tirelessly to demand that companies rethink hiring practices and initiatives to employ women and people of color, died Sunday.


Williams, 50, a resident of New York, had been hospitalized for over a week while battling "pneumonia and myocarditis, which can be caused by a viral infection of the heart," USA Today reports.

USA Today notes that Williams started Clickradio, an Internet music company, in 1998 and "cloud storage and data management platform Kloudco in 2008."

In 2013 Williams created Platform, an annual summit that highlights diversity issues and gathers a community of people working in technology, science, art and entrepreneurship in hopes of inspiring the next generation of innovators. It was also intended to be an area where people of color and women could have a collective voice.

"It's really to find role models for a young black boy or a young Latina girl who might want to see [someone] who looks like them," Williams told The Root in a 2014 interview. "So the first part was to make it easy … for those young people to be able to see an example of other people that look like them doing this kind of work."

Four years ago, CNN chronicled Williams' and other black techies' experiences in Sillicon Valley during the award-winning series Black in America: The New Promised Land—Silicon Valley.

The host of the series, Soledad O'Brien, tweeted on Sunday that Williams was "a real leader and kind human being."


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

Williams is survived by his wife and daughter, the newspaper reports.

Read more at USA Today.