Yesterday evening, I received news that Allen Stern had passed away. For those of you not familiar with Allen, he was the founder of CenterNetworks and HTMLCenter, as well as CloudContacts and a handful of other informational and entrepreneurial sites. He was also the founder of Let’s Talk Fitness. I have probably known Allen longer than I’ve known any of my other online acquaintances (and longer than I’ve known a lot of people in real life). Allen was an amazingly friendly, nice guy with a sparkling wit.
After I had been contributing to HTMLCenter for a long time, Allen approached me first about becoming a moderator, and then asked me if I would be interested in blogging on the site. Occasionally, he would even feature my HTMLCenter posts on CenterNetworks, which was a much wider-read site than HTMLCenter. There was a time when Allen seemed to be even more tapped into the tech world than people like Louis Gray and Robert Scoble. He knew about all of the emerging technologies, and he tried them all. He was a smart business man that was always happy to share advice with others. He led me to Friendfeed and Twitter, and, indirectly, even led me in the direction of WordPress. He gave me a platform from which to voice my opinion, share lessons I had learned, and help others along the way. Allen Stern was an entire network of contacts within a single man.
It’s tough for me to parse out which parts of my life and my success have been influenced or assisted by others, but I can say with certainty that I would not be where I am in the industry today if it hadn’t been for Allen. He helped me along, mentored me, and pointed me in the right direction more times than I can count. It was through the resources he made available to me that I was able to move into professional Web development, and was able to really hone my skills.
He sold CenterNetworks and HTMLCenter a little while ago, and decided to drop out of the tech scene for a while. While he continued to run his company CloudContacts, he poured most of his effort into developing a healthy lifestyle and helping others live healthily. He lost a fantastic amount of weight, and shared countless tips and inspirational moments with his followers. Although Allen and I didn’t talk nearly as much over the last few years as we had in the past, I could always count on him to reply to a tweet or a Google+ post with something witty or some sort of encouragement.
Allen was truly a giant among men. He had an energy and enthusiasm that is extremely rare in this world; he was always happy to help people out; he had an amazingly sharp wit and knack for satire. I knew he was someone I could always count on. Although Allen is gone, I hope his spirit will live on through the people that he touched; I hope that everyone has the opportunity to know someone as helpful, friendly and open as Allen Stern.
Here are some of the classic moments Allen shared with us through CenterNetworks over the years. Thank you for the memories; thank you for your help in everything; and most of all, thank you for being you, Allen. You will be missed.