Real Leaders

A Tribute to David Goldberg

Photo by Simon Abrams on Unsplash

On May 1, 2015, David Goldberg collapsed at a private beach-front villa near the Four Seasons Resort in Punta Mita, near Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, during a vacation with his wife Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook. He died later that day at a hospital in Nuevo Vallarta. According to the Nayarit State Prosecutor’s Office, Goldberg fell off a treadmill while exercising at a gym and died after suffering head trauma and blood loss. Goldberg’s brother, Robert Goldberg, in an article written by Tim Bradshaw in San Francisco for the Financial Times, described his family’s “incredible shock and sadness”, in an online post asking well-wishers to post photos and memories to his Facebook profile page.

“In lieu of donations, we want to celebrate his life in a manner that respects the family’s privacy as they cope with this tragic, life changing event”, Robert Goldberg wrote. Tributes to Goldberg were posted to social media across the Silicon Valley community. A spokeperson for Facebook said its executives were “heartbroken by this news.” Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, said in a post that Goldberg was “an amazing person and I am glad I got to know him”.

“One of the truly great people on the planet, Dave was of almost unimaginably remarkable character,” said Dick Costolo, Twitter’s chief executive. “One of kindest and most generous friends I’ve known,” said Jeff Weiner, chief executive of LinkedIn. A memorial service for Goldberg was held at Stanford Memorial Auditorium on the Stanford University campus and the 90-minute service was attended by many members of what Fortune described as “the elite of Silicon Valley”, as well as U2 frontman Bono, who performed his song “One”, and actor Ben Affleck, who had worked with Goldberg on a philanthropy project in Africa. Goldberg was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota on October 2, 1967.

His mother Paula Goldberg is co-founder and executive director of the Pacer Center and his father, Mel Goldberg (1942-1998) was associate dean and professor at the William Mitchell College of Law. Goldberg worked for Bain & Company for two years after graduating from college. He had planned to attend law school but instead joined Capitol Records, where he served as director of marketing strategy and new business development. He founded LAUNCH Media in 1994, and led it through its acquisition by Yahoo Inc. in 2001.He quit Yahoo in 2007 and joined Benchmark Capital after which he joined SurveyMonkey in 2009. In 2004, Goldberg married Sheryl Sandberg, with whom he had two children.

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