OEN will bestow its 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award on Sam Blackman, co-founder and former CEO of AWS Elemental. The award will be presented at OEN’s Tom Holce Entrepreneurship Awards Dinner on Wednesday, October 25 at the Oregon Convention Center. Blackman died unexpectedly from sudden cardiac arrest in August of this year.
Blackman founded Elemental Technologies in 2006. He rose to prominence as one of Oregon’s most successful and respected tech entrepreneurs, building a company that is held in the highest regard by its customers, employees, and vendors, and has measurably impacted Oregon’s economy. AWS Elemental, which now employs more than 400 people, was acquired by Amazon in 2015.
The Lifetime Achievement Award honors a career of entrepreneurial achievement, as well as civic engagement and community investment. As a startup, Elemental donated company shares to the Entrepreneurs Foundation of the Northwest (EFNW), which was later acquired by OEN. That equity became liquid when Elemental was acquired, $150,000 of which was donated to OEN to help support Oregon’s next generation of entrepreneurs. The other proceeds helped create the Elemental Community Investment Fund, part of the Oregon Community Foundation.
As a champion of Portland, Blackman helped make the city the best it could be via the platform he and his team built; it intersected his business, civic, and community passions. After acquisition by Amazon in 2015, Blackman noted to The Oregonian that he hoped “this one … is something that draws a lot of eyes to what Portland engineers and Portland entrepreneurs can build. The teams here are building such great technologies. I really think this is just the beginning.”
Blackman was fiercely committed to diversity and inclusion in the Portland business community and the broader media and entertainment industry. He co-founded the 4K 4Charity Fun Run Series in 2014 to help support diversity and inclusion initiatives. He also signed AWS Elemental onto the TechTown diversity pledge, and aspired to influence the wider AWS community towards broader civic engagement, the importance of volunteerism and the critical role of diversity and inclusion in industry.
“Sam’s career was one of entrepreneurial achievement and commitment to civic engagement,” said OEN President & Executive Director Maggie Finnerty. “He not only saw to it that AWS Elemental gave back to the community, but he supported so many of our members in direct and personal ways.”
Blackman was a “serial” OEN Award winner, receiving the Growth Stage Company Award in 2014, the Development Stage Company Award in 2011, and the Entrepreneurial Achievement Award in 2011.
Meet the 2017 finalists for OEN’s Company Awards, Entrepreneurial Achievement Award, Game Changer Award, and Wyatt Starnes Battle of the Schools Award and learn more about OEN’s 2017 Awards Dinner here.