Robert “Razerguy” Krakoff, the co-founder and former president of gaming hardware company Razer, passed away last week at the age of 81. You may not have heard of Krakoff’s name, but it’s possible that you can reach far from his legacy.

In 1999, Krakoff was behind the very first gaming mouse: the Razer Boomslang. Not only was it the foundation of Razer’s now massive lineup of gaming mice, it arguably kickstarted the entire gaming peripherals industry. Below is Krakoff himself in an advertisement for the Razer Boomslang mouse in 2002 – alongside professional gamer Johnathan “Fatal1ty” Wendel, who signed a historic sponsorship deal with Razer long before the word “eSports” entered the vocabulary.

Origin stories can be complicated, and Razer’s story is more complicated than most. Razer wasn’t really one company until 2005 – it was the trademarked mark of a company named Karna, who had invented an opto-mechanical encoder wheel that could track a mouse’s movements at 2000 dpi, a far higher resolution than other mice at the time. (Yes, the first gaming mouse rolled up Wheelsalthough optical mice became a thing.)

Kärna went bankrupt in 2001 and Krakoff co-founded Razer with current CEO Min-Liang Tan in 2005, but neither of them invented the gaming mouse: This case study (pdf) describes how a marketing agency called Fitch was founded the entire Razer brandincluding the name, the iconic three-headed snake logo, the website, the packaging, and most importantly, the design and engineering of the Boomslang mouse itself.

None of this is disputed: Razer’s first press release says that the Boomslang was “designed by Fitch, Inc. for Kärna”.

Razerzone.com in 1999.
screenshot above Internet Archive

But it also cites a “Robert Krakoff, general manager of Razer” – who would not only become the public face of the company for its first decade and its transformation, but would make an incredible impression as one of the most approachable public faces of a company perhaps ever have the pleasure of experiencing it.

You would get a little message from Razerguy with every Razer product you’ve purchased, and his public email address wasn’t just for show. He was known to respond to fans and Sit down for interviews with rowdy journalists who barely had a following. Once in a while he would give them jobs. According to his Facebook page, he himself studied journalism at UCLA, albeit on a football scholarship.

He’s also been remarkably candid: in 2009, he told Me, Sean, a similarly unknown journalist, that the company didn’t actually have to sell a single unit of its brand new Razer Mamba wireless mouse at its then-exorbitant price of $130. The point, he said, is to get a huge audience of gamers excited about the innovation, knowing they would choose other cheaper Razer mice and merchandise.

As a well-known left-hander, he also told me that he wished Razer could make a left-handed mouse, but that as the company’s president he didn’t have the power to make that happen – the board apparently decided it didn’t make financial sense to do so. A year later, I smiled when I saw the Razer release the first left-handed gaming mousea mirrored version of his best-selling DeathAdder.

While Krakoff continued to advise the company as “President Emeritus” for years, Razer was far from his last act. He also founded MindFX Sciencea brand focused on selling energy drinks and nutritional supplements, serving as a “healthy alternative to 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 exercising. He and his wife, Dr. Patsi Krakoff even ran a blog focused on fitness and nutrition tips for seniors and co-authored a book about it Secrets to stay young.

However, under the name RM Krakoffhe also had a literary career of his own – he wrote a dozen books since 2009. After working as a copywriter, said Krakow he “put his proverbial pen where his mouth was (the ink tasted like shit)”. He dabbled in both fiction and nonfiction writing and wrote all of it black comedy to Science fiction fantasies. His description of America Unbound: Fighting demons in a vanished democracy is… a lot.

on Krakoff’s Facebook Page, he said he splits his time between Jalisco, Mexico and Peoria, Arizona as he enjoys “being a sunbird and spending six months a year in each house.” He leaves behind two children, Scott and Robin, and five “very cool” grandchildren. Scott contributed the covers for most of his novels.

“We are saddened by the passing of co-founder and President Emeritus Robert Krakoff, known to all as RazerGuy,” Razer said in a statement on twitter. “Robert’s unwavering drive and passion for gaming lives on and inspires us all.”

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