Robert “Razerguy” Krakoff, co-founder and former president of gaming hardware company Razer, died last week at the age of 81. You may have never heard Krakoff’s name, but it is possible that you have been influenced by his far- that now inheritance.
In 1999, Krakoff was behind the first gaming mouse ever: the Razer Boomslang. Not only was it the basis of Razer’s now huge range of gaming mice, it has undoubtedly set the whole peripheral gaming industry in motion. Below you can see Krakoff himself in an ad promoting the Razer Boomslang mouse in 2002 – along with professional player Johnathan “Fatal1ty” Wendel, who signed a historic sponsorship deal with Razer long before the word “esports” entered the encyclopedia.
Origin stories can be complicated, and the story of Razer is more intricate than most. Razer was actually not one company until 2005 – it was the trademark of a device called Kärna, which had invented an opto-mechanical coding wheel that could track a mouse’s movements at 2000 dpi, much higher resolution than other mice at the time. (Yes, the first gaming mouse rolled on wheelalthough optical mice were becoming a thing.)
Kärna went bankrupt in 2001, and Krakoff co-founded Razer with current CEO Min-Liang Tan in 2005, but none of them invented the gaming mouse: This case study (pdf) describes how a marketing agency called Fitch created the entire Razer brandincluding the name, the iconic three-headed snake logo, the website, the packaging and most importantly, the design and construction of the Boomslang mouse itself.
None of this is in doubt: Razer’s first press release states that Boomslang is “designed by Fitch, Inc. for the core.”
But it also quotes a “Robert Krakoff, general manager of Razer” – who would not only become the company’s public face in its first decade and change, but also make an incredible impression as one of the most accessible public faces in a company you maybe ever get the pleasure of knowing.
You would get a little message from Razerguy with every Razer product you purchased and his public email address was not just for viewing. He was known for reacting to fans and sitting down for interviews with tough journalists who barely had a following. Sometimes he gave them jobs. According to his Facebook page, he even studied journalism at UCLA, even though he did so on a football scholarship.
He was also remarkably honest: in 2009, he told me, Sean, a similarly unknown journalist, that the company did not actually need to sell a single unit of his brand-new Razer Mamba wireless mouse for the then exorbitant price of $ 130. The point, he said, was to inspire a large audience of gamers with the innovation, knowing that they would choose other cheaper mice and merchandise from Razer.
A well-known leftist, he also told me that he wished Razer could make a left-handed mouse, but that he did not have the power as president of the company to make it happen – the board had apparently decided that it did not yield financially opinion. A year later, I smiled when I saw Razer release the first left-handed gaming mouse, a mirror image version of its best-selling DeathAdder.
While Krakoff still advised the company for years as a “president emeritus,” Razer was not his last act at a long shot. He also founded MindFX Science, a brand that focuses on selling energy drinks and supplements that serve as “a healthy alternative to the highly caffeinated energy drinks and pre-workout products.”
Fitness seemed to be an important part of Krakoff’s life. He played for the Los Angeles Rams for five years in the 1960s. As he got older, Krakoff said he loved playing tennis, cycling and fitness training. He and his wife, Dr. Patsi Krakoff, even ran a blog focusing on fitness and nutrition tips for seniors and co-authored a book on the secrets of staying young.
But under the name RM Krakoff, he also had his very own literary career – writing a dozen books since 2009. After working as a copywriter, Krakoff said he “put his proverbial pen where his mouth was (the ink tasted of shit).” He dealt with both fiction and non-fiction and wrote everything from black comedies to sci-fi fantasies. His description of America Unbound: Fighting Demons in a Vanished Democracy is very.
On Krakoff’s Facebook page, he said he would split his time between Jalisco, Mexico and Peoria, Arizona, as he enjoyed being “a sunbird and spending six months a year in every home.” He leaves behind two children, Scott and Robin, and five “very cool” grandchildren. Scott contributed the cover image to most of his novels.
“We are saddened by the passing of co-founder and president emeritus Robert Krakoff, known to all as RazerGuy,” reads a statement from Razer on Twitter. “Robert’s unwavering drive and passion for gaming lives on and continues to inspire us all.”
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 us all.
Thank you Rob, you will be missed. pic.twitter.com/2HKNcFaOj2
– R Λ Z Ξ R (@Razer) April 28, 2022