R.I.P., Will

SMU grad and media exec Will Friend dies in lightning strike at age 33

SMU grad and media exec Will Friend dies in lightning strike at age 33

Will Friend, Bisnow
Friend had joined Bisnow in 2010, following his graduation from SMU’s Cox School of Business. Facebook/Bisnow

Will Friend, a Southern Methodist University graduate who helped build the Bisnow media brand, died over the Fourth of July weekend after being struck by lightning. He was 33 years old.

The deadly lightning strike happened July 3 while Friend was boating off the coast of Wilmington, North Carolina. Sheriff’s deputies and medical personnel performed CPR for about 20 minutes, but they weren’t able to resuscitate Friend, according to TV station WECT.

Friend, who was born in the United Kingdom, would have celebrated his 34th birthday July 9. Survivors include his wife, Oak Tree Hill star Bevin Prince. The couple lived in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, just east of Wilmington.

Friend is the third lightning-related fatality this year in the U.S., the National Lightning Safety Council says.

At the time of his death, Friend was CEO of Washington, D.C.-based Bisnow, which publishes commercial real estate news and hosts business events. He joined Bisnow in 2010, following his graduation from SMU’s Cox School of Business with a bachelor’s degree in business and marketing. He was promoted to chief operating officer in 2013 and CEO in late 2014.

“What made Will special was his innate ability to inspire and motivate people — to raise people higher than they thought possible,” Gregg Mayer, chief operating officer and chief financial officer of Bisnow, says in a statement. “That is the culture he fostered at Bisnow and, ultimately, that will be his lasting legacy.”

Chris Powers, founder and executive chairman of Fort Worth real estate investment firm Fort Capital, knew Friend. In an interview with The Real DealPowers described Friend as an “entrepreneur’s entrepreneur,” citing his ability to push through challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Will was a trusted partner, executive and a friend. He approached every opportunity and challenge with extreme confidence and optimism which was infectious to everyone surrounding him,” says Daniel Kortick, managing partner of New York City investment firm The Wicks Group, which purchased Bisnow in 2016. “We mourn the loss of such a quality human being, and we will miss Will and all that he brought to the world.”