What would Dave do?
The shock and sadness that has enveloped the tech community with the news of Dave’s passing has been monumental. It is not uncommon when someone passes away for those who knew him to speak out about his many qualities. However, in Dave’s case the outpouring of grief and love has been overwhelming, and the description of his character by so many extraordinarily consistent. I think this is why: there are plenty of smart and successful people in the world. There are also many kind and giving people. The universe of both is much smaller, and Dave was at the center of it. It is hard to think of others with his level of success and personal obligations displaying the same level of humility, selflessness and generosity.
Over the years, I had the privilege of getting to know him both socially and professionally. When I arrived in Silicon Valley, the Bodnicks and Sandberg/Goldbergs were kind enough to host me for many Jewish holidays, and he was always warm, friendly and funny. His talent as a connector was as thoughtful on the personal side as it was on the business side. Over the years he introduced me to a few of his friends, always in a considered and subtle manner.
We also had the opportunity to work together. We looked at several deals while he was at Benchmark, and he was smart and insightful in an understated fashion. He was a great listener and quick at processing information. He enjoyed intellectual debate yet exemplified collaborative working.
Most recently, I wanted his advice and asked for a minute of his time. We ended up chatting for an hour and a half, and he was present and engaged the entire time. I admit I can barely spend an hour with my own children without checking my phone. Meanwhile, the CEO of a large, growing company with plenty of friends and family to attend to on a Friday afternoon gave me his undivided attention for longer. He then proceeded in the weeks thereafter to be so helpful that I sent him a poker set as a small thank you. I assume he never got a chance to use it.
This past year I have heard a lot about the decaying culture in the Valley, about the need to accept certain negative traits in successful disruptive entrepreneurs, and a general questioning of the ability to be inclusive in a clubby culture. No one more than Dave disproves all these statements. His memory should serve as a reminder that we can be better. I, for one, plan to think, “what would Dave do?” as I move forward to try to be a better version of myself.
I don’t know what happens after death, but I hope somewhere Dave can see the void he left in so many lives, and that his impact is profound despite leaving us way too soon.