Shay Ben-Yitzhak, one of the four 888 Holdings co-founder, died in a plane crash on Saturday. His 11-year-old son lived.
Shay Ben-Yitzhak Dies in a Plane Crash
888 co-founder, Shay Ben-Yitzhak, aged 52, died on Saturday in Sharon, Israel, after a private plane he and his 11-year-old son had boarded crashed, The Times of Israel reported. The accident unfolded minutes after takeoff, with the plane nose diving back to the ground, according to witness account.
Firefighters and ambulances arrived on sight and launched a rescue operation. Danny Yosefsberg of the Netanya Fire and Rescue Department explained that the operation took firefighters time, because the plane’s fuel had spilled around, limiting access to the aircraft.
Unfortunately, by the time the crews reached Mr Ben-Yitzhak, he had passed away. His son, however, was alive and he was airlifted to a hospital, having sustained serious injuries. Investigations into the crash continues, but experts seem to favor the theory provided by eye witnesses, i.e. that the plane nose dived into the ground.
Who Is Ben-Yitzhak and What Was His Role in 888?
Shay Ben-Yitzhak is brother to Ron Ben-Yitzhak, two of the original 888 founders. In 1997, the pair pooled their efforts with Aaron and Avi Shaked, also brothers, and formed what would later be 888 Holdings.
At the time, the company was known as Casino-on-Net. 888 Holdings quickly progressed to become one of the world’s largest online gaming companies, expanding into multiple verticals including poker, casino and sports betting.
Shay Ben-Yitzhak first worked as software engineer for Tower Semiconductor Limited and his brother, Ron, worked as a head engineer for Ziax-Av Engineering. As mathematicians, the pair had keen interest in probably games, including roulette, craps, and poker.
They eventually reached out to the Shaked brothers and shared their plans about a way to bring these games online, an idea that stuck with everyone. Shay was tasked with developing a unique software platform that would allow the casino to go live.
He was, in a sense, what Steve Jobs was to Apple. A pioneer who understood not only the technical side, but also wanted to create a user-friendly product that would give the platform the best chances of striking home with players.
The company suffered a big dip in operating profits after the United States passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), making it illegal for 888 Holdings to operate in the jurisdiction.
Most founders decided to move on, but Shay stuck with the company as its chief technology officer. He stepped down in 2006 and remained with 888 in a non-executive role which he then relinquished back in 2010 to spend more time with his family.