Rob Williams of Dolphin Music dies in Alps skiing accident

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Rob Williams, co-founder of one of the UK’s leading online companies Dolphin Music, died in a skiing accident yesterday evening while on holiday in the Swiss Alps. Mr Williams, 29, had been part of a group break for UK entrepreneurs in the ski resort of Verbier. He became separated from his group during very harsh weather conditions. His family and work colleagues have now been informed.

Although several members of the holiday group of entrepreneurs had left by Monday night, Williams and his co-founder and friend Jason Tavaria had stayed on to ski, but visibilty was reduced to near zero as a blizzard descended. The two men became over-due for return to their chalet and a search was launched. The two became separated in deep snow, but Jason was found by a mountain rescue team. Rob remained missing until his body was discovered later.

The hunt for Rob and Jason has been well documented online and involved his friends frantically attempting to use Twitter, GPS and iPhones to try and pinpoint their location. Although the technology used may well have been of some help to the search party, it is likely that Verbier’s Mountain Rescue team was far more instrumental in Jason’s rescue. Whatever the circumstance – and no doubt more details will come out in due course – tragically, Rob had become separated from his friend in harsh blizzard conditions that any technology probably became useless.

I just got off the phone to one member of the trip. They said: “Everyone literally said they’d just had the best time on the trip. And then it went straight to the opposite. We are all in shock.”

I never knew Rob, but on behalf of myself and TechCrunch, we’d like to pass on our deepest sympathies to his family. Below, I have put together a small tribute to Rob’s considerable achievements at Dolphin. We give thanks for Jason’s safe return. Our thoughts and prayers are with Rob’s family and with his friends in Verbier right now.

[This post will continue to be updated if there is any further information to impart].

Update: Other news outlets have now picked up the story
Sky News
Daily Mail
The Daily Telegraph
Press Association

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Rob launched Dolphin Enterprises – today one of the leading providers of musical equipment on the internet in the UK – with Jason while they were still at university in September 1999. Rob was originally responsible for creating Dolphin’s original php/MySQL web application and running its platform thereafter.

The pair had been friends since school in St Albans, selling everything from computer games to magazines to the other kids in the playground.

The two friends used their student loans to start the business. Like many typical startups they ran the business from home, but it has since grown to a staff of over 65 with turnover of £13m. In 2007 it was ranked Britain’s 11th fastest-growing company. They also opened retail stores in Liverpool, Gateshead and Huddersfield and had plans to expand into Europe and the Far East. Along with Jason, Rob was profiled in The Daily Telegraph in December last year. Dolphin Music was also presented with an award for Best Performing Business at the Kick Start Awards.

In December 2007 Dolphin Music was named in the Sunday Times Fast Track 100 list for the second year running. The Liverpool-based musical instrument retailer was listed as the 37th fastest growing company in the UK, and was the only retailer to appear in the list. Dolphin is also on Twitter.

Rob was a great supporter of schemes to help young people into the entrepreneurial life, supporting the government’s Make Your Mark initiative. He will be greatly missed by his family, friends and colleagues.

  • Nicholas

    I was following the tweets of Alex Hoye (http://twitter.com/alexhoye) and was hoping everything would be OK; sadly not. Hope that Jason will pull through it. Thoughts are with Rob’s family, friends and everyone on the trip.

  • http://www.twitter.com/colinbowen Colin Bowen

    Sucks. Didn’t know him, but he was a friend of a tweep of a tweep. :-(

    It’s no consolation to his family and friends, but he had a lot of people trying to help.

  • http://www.affiliatefuture.co.uk James

    Very sad news – thoughts are with his friends and family.

  • http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/03/03/twitter-google-maps-used-to-track-down-two-missing-skiers/ Twitter, Google Maps Used To Track Down Two Missing Skiers

    […] Tragically, one of the skiers, Rob Williams, was not able to be saved. Our thoughts go out to his […]

  • Andy Lopata

    I followed what was happening through Hermione and Michelle’s Tweets. So sorry to hear the news and my thoughts are with Rob’s family and everyone who was on that trip.

  • http://robertday.co.uk/ Robert Day

    Very sad to hear, my wishes are with everyone who knew him.

  • http://www.redesignyourbiz.com/ WebDesigner

    very sorry to know about this sad news :(

  • http://searchengineland.com/twitter-google-maps-help-find-lost-skiers-16770 Twitter & Google Maps Help Find Lost Skiers

    […] Sadly, TechCrunch reports that Rob Williams, one of the skiers lost in this story, died in a skiing accident. Our prayers are […]

  • http://buzzpal.com chrisco

    My thoughts are with Rob’s friends and family. I saw Alex Hoye’s tweets yesterday and have been holding my breath ever since. My condolences.

  • http://myblogchannel.com/?p=6292 Twitter, Google Maps Used To Track Down Two Missing Skiers | My Blog Channel

    […] Tragically, one of the skiers, Rob Williams, was not able to be saved. Our thoughts go out to his […]

  • http://www.learnguitarfastandeasy.com/easyguitar learnguitarfastandeasy

    How could Rob not be an inspiration to people young and old. From a dream to reality – he did it!

    To Robs family and friends, my condolences and most sincere regrets.

    jW

  • http://www.gamesbrief.com/2009/03/uk-entrepreneur-and-founder-of-dolphin-music-dies-in-ski-ing-accident/ UK entrepreneur and founder of Dolphin Music dies in ski-ing accident » Games Brief

    […] Rob Williams, co-founder of one of the UK’s leading online companies Dolphin Music, died in a skiing accident yesterday evening while on holiday in the Swiss Alps. His business partner Jason Tavaria was rescued using a combination of GPS, Google Maps to determine longitude and latitude, and the signals returned from his iPhone. TechCrunch has the details. […]

  • http://myanmar-movie.net Kevin

    sorry to know about this sad news.

  • http://www.sassyqarla.com qarla

    Sad to hear.. Condolence..

  • http://alstevens.co.uk Al Stevens

    Tragic, and very sad. I didn’t know him but my thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.

  • http://www.storyofmylife.com/antje antje wilsch

    That’s really a tragedy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Matthew_Shore/702016030 Matthew Shore

    how very sad – my sympathies

  • Batman

    I ski in Switzerland everyday and you have to have a clue about the weather it roles in fast and nasty we had around 4 foot dumped in a matter of hours the other day,

    The sad thing is that this happens on a regular basis, and taking normal weather circumstances around other parts of the EU is extremely stupid, it gets COLD very fast.

    All skiers that have money for F&*CK sake by RECO storm weather gear that can be tracked by mountain rescue.

    Thank you

  • Benji

    For those searching for RECO gear mentioned in @Batman’s post, it’s actually called RECCO

  • http://gifoftheday.blogspot.com/ doublebanker

    Tragic, definitely a tough situation for the family…always tough when they’re out to have a fun.

    DB

  • Paulo Cardoso

    Very sad news. As a person h was amazing. Always had a smile and a nice word to everyone. As a boss…can’t really fault it. It is indeed a great loss and my sympathies go to his family and friends.
    He will be greatly missed.

  • http://www.iq-development.com Glen Richardson

    Life REALLY sucks sometimes how good people are taken from us. My thoughts are with his friends and family.

  • http://www.82123.net/get-ready-to-twitter-google-maps-used-to-track-down-two-missing-skiers Get Ready To Twitter, Google Maps Used To Track Down Two Missing Skiers | 82123

    […] Tragically, one of the skiers, Rob Williams, was not able to be saved. Our thoughts go out to his […]

  • giddyup

    sad stuff. RIP

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jack_Gleeson/687568238 Jack Gleeson

    After working with him for 9 months and only speaking to him Thursday just gone I am in total shock. Rob had a vision many struggle to grasp and he was always moving forward. I feel privileged to have worked with him and my thoughts are with his family. Dolpin music will never be the same again.

    R.I.P Rob

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