David Stern joined Greycroft in 2014, Alan Patricof good- naturedly bestowed the title of Intern on him when we struggled to come up with a title that would do justice to what David deserved. David chuckled when we presented his cards to him. He went so far as to give them out at events. You would think that someone who was “one of the most influential business leaders of his generation” would take umbrage, but not David - he embraced his new title with charm.
David attended our Monday meetings. I remember fondly an entrepreneur abruptly stopping their “pitch” and saying “wait that is David Stern.” We all laughed. Once, a delivery person saw him in the main conference room and asked if he could come in and say “hi.” That is David, everyone felt they knew him and was his friend.
I had the best seat in the arena at our meetings often sitting next to David. For countless hours, I had David’s wisdom whispered into my ear. Challenging me, cajoling me, and always encouraging and supporting me. I think our entire team and everyone we worked with has benefitted from these types of moments with David.
A frequent guest at our Greycroft Summit, David asked the best questions. The ones everyone wanted to ask, but didn’t have the gumption to ask. He delighted everyone with his quips so that even the industry titan or political heavyweight that was the target of the barb came away smiling. Once, during an on-air interview during the summit, the cameraman asked if he could ask David some questions. David gladly obliged much to the cameraman’s delight. Again, everybody’s friend. Afterwards, the producer said he had never seen the cameraman interested in or comfortable enough to ask questions of the interviewee in all his time.
David spoke his mind at all times. Sometimes, he emboldened us with his passion for an entrepreneur or an idea with a “Strong Yes” in our voting system. Other times, he had sharp criticism that made us think twice or made sure we didn’t make the same mistake again. Often, it was his ability to inject humor into a tense moment that allowed us to move on and get to the right decision that made the most impact. He threaten to toilet paper my house if I didn’t support one such decision around halloween.
He often invested personally behind the entrepreneurs he believed in through his investing entity “Micromanagement LLC.” He was gracious with his time, traveling to portfolio company off-sites to offer leadership advice. After every single such event, I would recieve a personal call from the Founder telling me how amazing David was and how much the team enjoyed thier time with him. Once he even offered to call a candidate we were interviewing for an associate position to talk him into taking the job. Down-to-earth, caring and sincere is the type of person he was.
I’ll miss my Monday meeting seat mate - the Intern that everybody loved.
My heartfelt condolences to David’s family, his wife, Dianne and their sons, Andrew and Eric.