Remembering Pontus Schultz, 44

Emerson said “the only true gift is a portion of yourself”. Pontus Schultz kept giving. Always attentive, interested and now thoroughly missed. Pontus Schultz died 40 years and three days old in a bicycle accident in the extreme sports competition Haute Route. At 0900 CET on Saturday, August 25, 2012, on the final stage of the Haute Route 2012, Pontus Schultz fell into Gorges du Cian.

Saturday. I had been out at a jazz bar the night before and had one of the best jazz experiences ever. The day after I was rewarded with a massive hangover. If you drink wine like artists you must expect to feel like one the day after too. I was laying by the pool in Malta trying to recover, tweeting casually as I noticed a tweet from friend Niklas Derouche speaking about how unprepared you always are for tragedy hitting. I didn’t understand this at all, since me and Niklas constantly tweet and text so I would probably know if something was going on. I asked him by direct message and got the reply that I should check my email and read a PPlist mailinglist post stating that Pontus Schultz died in a biking accident. Needless to say I was not hungover any more. A few phone calls later the horrible truth was confirmed.

Why do I tell this? Why tell you I was hungover receiving this horrible piece of information changing everything in a short minute? Because that was the way Pontus would have. Pontus wrote, and he wrote a lot. And he always stayed true.

Saturday again. All I could write was a short tweet stating: “Completely devastated and crushed by today’s news.”

However, Pontus deserves more. He would not succumb to a single tweet if some of his friends died. So let me tell you about this media prodigy.

You may not have heard of this Swedish journalist and entrepreneur but he was a star on the Swedish media scene. He started quite a number of magazines and web sites during his short 40 years. Among his stellar projects were the business magazines Vision, DagensPS, PS Media, Etermedia, Finansvision and Att:ention. During the dotcom frenzy he was the most important journalist by far, heading up his own magazine Vision, later merged with Finanstidningen into Finansvision. At the time of his accident he was the editor in chief of Swedish business journal Veckans affärer. He was also a focal point of everything Internet and media in Sweden. This was an individual who actually was collecting items for a dotcom museum.

He was often controversial. He never backed down. I didn’t always agree with him. In a weird turn of events, one of my recent blog posts is a republished rebuttal of our very public debate some ten years ago on the freedom of the Internet and Internet regulation. But Pontus’ reach was beyond the Internet. He had very strong views on the environment and the corporate responsibility in general. He also hosted very strong views on women in corporations and was one of the finest fighters for corporate equality. As part of this latter he decided to take time off as a dad, but ended up turning up for meetings bringing his kids. He wrote a lot about how having children turned out to be a real glass ceiling for women in corporations and probably changed a lot views by his actions.

I have so many happy, crazy memories of Pontus Schultz. We did not hang out much the last years. I was in Malta, he in Stockholm, plus there were kids, families and startups. But some ten years ago, during the dotcom craze we were closer. Still, I tried to meet him, whenever in Sweden. He was unique as a journalist, since you could also try ideas on him and he would give his opinion, without much prejudice. I remember once bumping into him and Lisen when I had an idea of introducing a sort of moral program within the online casino Mr Green. Pontus listened very attentively — this was one of his main characteristics — then broke of in a big smile and started laughing, telling me that we could of course do the program but from a PR perspective we would always be a nasty gaming company so we should probably keep quiet about it. Even though he might even think that himself, you would love to get the feedback. And that smile. Always that smile. And always challenging you.

I was never part of Pontus’ reborn career as an athlete. I did congratulate him when he won the half marathon in the Swedish championship for veterans May 5 on the time of 1.14. He then went on to talk about his plans to “get lanced” and compete with Lance Armstrong in Ironman Hawaii. I remember telling him that I thought this was complete madness. I host no regrets not trying to convince him to not continue with his extreme sports though, because this was Pontus. You could argue that if he would not have participated in the extremely tough Haute Route he would still be alive. But that person would not be Pontus.

A couple of weeks ago I was on vacation in Sweden. Driving on Strandvägen I passed Pontus on the street. I was about to stop the car mid-traffic to say hallo. But then I didn’t. Because there are so many things you must do. That was our last not-meeting.

The Swedish media pond will miss Pontus’ strong views and vision. I will miss Pontus as a friend. Pontus had a lot of time for his friends, but also strived to be a caring husband and an active and present father to their three daughters. It is all devastating and crushing. But then there is Emerson again. Pontus gave a lot of himself in all situations. He gave us the only true gift. A little part of himself. Therefore, he will live on in our hearts forever. David Sylvian would say that there is always sunshine above the grey sky. I will try to find it. Yes, I will try.

Mikael Pawlo

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