EarthLink CEO Garry Betty died on Tuesday from complications related to cancer, the company announced Wednesday.

Betty, 49, who also held the title of President, began his tenure at the fast-growing Internet service provider in 1996. He had taken a medical leave of absence from the company in November.

Garry was at once the general you wanted at your side in battle and the friend you wanted to celebrate with when the war was won, Sky Dayton, EarthLink founder and CEO of mobile phone operator Helio, said in a statement.

Before joining Earthlink in 1996, Betty was CEO of data communications specialist Digital Communications Associates and, at the time, was the youngest CEO of a New York Stock Exchange-listed company, EarthLink noted.

EarthLink executive vice president Mike Lunsford will remain as interim CEO while the search for a successor continues.