Yesterday I texted a friend of many years, Chris Donoyan, hoping to get together to catch up on a few things. A few minutes later came the following reply:
“This is Raffi, I’m Chris’ brother. I’m sorry to notify you like this, but my brother passed away.”
Chris was murdered in his LA apartment in late November. The crime remains unsolved.
We met in 1998 when I was with a startup called Anystream. We were the first to market with an enterprise-class web video encoding platform, and my colleague Patrick O’Connor (one of the inventors of the Avid Film Composer) had designed a new product for us, targeted at the TV and Film post production market. Patrick, Bob “Sully” Sullivan, Fady Lamaa, and I flew to LA to meet with Chris and his then business partner Mike Cavanaugh, to demo this new thing for them and see if they’d be willing to open some doors for us in the LA market. They absolutely loved the product, and from that point forward I made many trips back and forth between New York and LA to run around town with Chris showing this thing off to just about everyone. We did really well.
Chris would host me in his apartment in Studio City on my visits, letting me have his guest bedroom. We were both single at the time, and both shared an affinity for weed. Chris was a native Angelino and took me places that only locals know. We’d spark one up on the drive and wind up at some biker bar up in the hills and drink beers with people like Crispin Glover. On the way to one such place, we were waiting at a red light in Chris’ car. Jay Leno pulled up next to us in some kind of crazy open-top roadster. Chris yelled out the window to him.
“Hey Jay, is that thing street legal?”
A few years later, Chris parted ways with Mike C and started his own company, Home Run Media. He continued to rep Anystream, as well as another startup I was with (also started by Patrick and Sully) and we continued to do really well together on the business side of things.
About a year after he founded Home Run, I was driving through my wife’s hometown in New Mexico, and I noticed a pizza joint called “Home Run Pizza”. They had stolen Chris’ logo, it was amazing to see. Complete and total rip-off. When we got back to the house, I gave Chris a call to tell him.
“Chris, you won’t believe it. This local pizza shop out here ripped your brand and logo.”
“Oh, that’s not surprising.”
“Yeah, Home Run was also the name of my Porn Company.”
Chris had been in the Porn business many years earlier, and had used the same brand name and logo. These guys in New Mexico had probably seen it on the back of a DVD case while high and decided to use the name.
Chris had shared many stories with me of his days producing Porn, and out of respect his family who is going through an awful time right now, I’m going to leave it at that.
He left the technology business awhile back and was making a go at it as a Hollywood Agent, representing film writers and producers. He seemed to really be enjoying it.
Suren Christopher Donoyan, a 53-year white man, was found dead with a gunshot wound to his head on Nov. 25 in an apartment in North Hollywood, according to coroner’s officials. (LA Times)
Only my LA friends knew about this and nobody told me. I had to inform Jeff, Brenda, and some others yesterday and that is the shittiest news to have to deliver. I tried to get more information from his brother, but he was not willing to share anything further and of course I respect that completely.
KC and I will be getting together later today and I hope she can fill me in.
Miss you, Chris.