Above the Crowd

…Be Like Dave

May 4, 2015:

Like many of those that had the distinct pleasure of knowing Dave “Goldie” Goldberg, I was shocked and in disbelief when I received the tragic news this past Saturday. I first spent time with Dave when he joined us as an EIR at Benchmark back in 2007, and over the years, we had become good friends. I clearly had become quite accustomed to seeing Dave, because when I realized I would not have a chance to hang with him again it hit me like a ton of bricks. Like so many others, I really, really miss him.

For those of you that do not know him as well, you have likely read the numerous articles highlighting what an amazing guy he was. I was particularly moved by Kara Swisher’s “Does Silicon Valley Have a Soul? It Did — as Well as a Heart — in Dave Goldberg” and Adam Lashinsky’s “Remembering Dave Goldberg.” And there were countless others, that all portray Dave as a special human being that uniquely stood out among so many other remarkable people. An outsider might find these comments overly grandiose, or consider them to be a bit of retroactive embellishment. That would be an error. The stories are completely accurate — Dave was really this special.

For me, it all starts with his intelligence. Dave was wicked smart, and what is really cool is that he could care less whether you knew that or not. Over the years, I have had detailed conversations with David about business, politics, sports, music, poker, and many other subjects. He could go deep in so many areas. He was super-even keeled in most of these discussions, not allowing emotion to distract from his perspective. He was also a fiercely independent thinker, and frequently held opinions that cut against the norm. In each case he would back his argument  with data and in most cases would convince others to change their mind. Because of this, I loved chatting with him, particularly about business and Silicon Valley. If we were ever on different pages, I wanted to sort it out right then and there. I never wanted to be executing a plan that cut against his better judgment.

The other thing that stands out for me is that Dave was insanely funny. At first, I just thought he was kind-of funny, but the more time I was able to spend with him, the more I realized this guy was really f***ing funny. One of the funniest guys I have ever known. This was not jocular humor, but quite the opposite; witty creative humor. His intelligence soaked into his jokes the way syrup penetrates a pancake. And his humor was augmented by one of the most spectacular laughs I have ever heard. He could probably get me going with just that smile and that laugh, but the combination of his humor and that laugh was too much. I do not know how many people were able to see this side of him, but if you did you were quite fortunate.

As others have highlighted, he also had a huge heart and a big tent. He had what seemed like inexhaustible time, patience, and advice for an amazingly large number of people. It is quite remarkable how many people in this ecosystem he has touched, and how many of them are positively moved by the experience. Countless people sought his counsel, and he was always generous with his time. Notably, he was an impeccable listener, a tremendously rare skill that eludes many of the brighter stars in our industry (as well as myself). I always felt like Dave understood and respected me, and I would bet there are many hundreds of others that feel the exact same way.

Most importantly, Dave showed us all exactly what being a great human being looks like. In a post this weekend on Facebook, Jason Calacanis succinctly noted “He was a better friend, a better husband, a better father, a better leader, and a better person than all of us — and we knew that.” When I read these words, I thought “Precisely! That was Dave Goldberg!” I had been thinking the exact same thing over the weekend. Dave was better on all these dimensions and we did all know it. But it was never frustrating because Dave’s greatness was not competitive or threatening, it was gentle, inspirational, and egoless. He was the quintessential standard for the notion of leading by example.

This was Dave’s greatest gift to me —  I now know where true north is. I doubt I will ever achieve his lofty aspirational standard on so many of his unique characteristics. But I know which direction to head. I have a target. And as I circumvent my remaining days on this planet, I have no doubt that I will reflect on his high bar, and think about what I can do to be more like Dave.

I am so grateful to have known him.

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