Robert "RazerGuy" Krakoff, a gaming industry pioneer who co-founded Razer and created the Razer Boomslang gaming mouse that kicked off a gaming peripheral revolution, died last week. He was 81.
The news was shared by Razer via Twitter and Razer's website. The statement reads: "We are saddened by the passing of Co-Founder and President Emeritus, Robert Krakoff, known by everyone as RazerGuy. Robert’s unwavering drive and passion for gaming lives on and continues to inspire all of us.
"Thank you Rob, you will be missed."
We are saddened by the passing of Co-Founder and President Emeritus, Robert Krakoff, known by everyone as RazerGuy. Robert’s unwavering drive and passion for gaming lives on and continues to inspire all of us.Thank you Rob, you will be missed. pic.twitter.com/2HKNcFaOj2April 28, 2022
Krakoff created the world's first gaming mouse, the Razer Boomslang, in 1999, which helped blaze a trail for gaming-dedicated devices beyond the simple joysticks and handheld controllers before it and cemented the Razer brand's reputation with PC gamers.
Krakoff himself was well-known and respected, if not beloved, by the broader community, and as PC Gamer notes (opens in new tab), news of his passing was met with sorrow from gaming industry veterans who knew Krakoff personally – many having met him when they were first starting out in a completely uncharted industry.
"No one would talk to us. No one," writes Jerry Paxton, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of GamingShogun. "As a young gamer, I still had my Boomslang gaming mouse so I thought I’d reach out to Razer. It was a long shot, I thought, but I took a chance.
"After so many rejected us, and more would just not talk to us, I got a personal email back from Robert 'RazerGuy' Krakoff himself. He took time to get to know us, even sent us some products to review, and got us on the company’s press release list."
Krakoff is survived by his wife, two children, and five grandchildren.
Opinion: I never met RazerGuy, but I'm really glad that many others did
In my time in the tech industry, I've ignored more PR requests than I can count. When I attended my first CES as a freelance reporter, I made the rookie mistake of using my personal email to sign up with the CTA for media credentials and my inbox has never recovered.
Even now, I watch the number of unread emails tick ever-upward like the national debt counter in New York City's Union Square, knowing that in my lifetime I'll never be able to read a fraction of what I have already left unread, forget whatever else comes my way tomorrow and every day thereafter.
But Paxton's story sticks with me. In 2005, Razer was on its way up. Competitors had caught the scent of a new market and were flooding the zone with new products, and tech media had matured enough that Razer was absolutely inundated with work, media requests, and unsolicited resumes.
What prompted the co-founder of this booming tech company to take the time to open an email that in 2005 would have been indistinguishable from spam (this was years before inbox filters became commonplace) and actually respond to it we may never know. That he responded to Paxton at all is incredible. Not because Paxton wasn't important enough to talk to, but that so few people, myself included, remember that newcomers like Paxton are important enough to talk to.
A lot of people are talking about Krakoff's kindness in the wake of his passing, and that is a rare trait in tech industry founders. Sure, they give plenty of money to charity, but you can't write off giving someone their break in the industry, and several people, like Red Bull's senior director of esports Travis Wannlund, are crediting Krakoff personally (opens in new tab) for their careers.
We all have those people in our careers who gave us our start. I remember mine. Too often we forget to be that person for someone else, and more than anything I hope that is the lesson we take from RazerGuy's passing. RIP to a real one.