Dave Goldberg, the CEO of SurveyMonkey, which he built from a small startup into a $2 billion company, died unexpectedly from severe head trauma while exercising on a treadmill at resort gym near Puerto Vallarta on Friday. The 47-year-old entrepreneur was found lying near the treadmill at the Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita, a Mexican official told the Associated Press.
According to Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO and friend of the family, Goldberg had gone on a vacation with his family and friends. His wife, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, and his two children were with him. The successful CEO had left the hotel room to go to the gym at around 4 p.m., and by 6:30 p.m., worried that he had not yet returned, his family went to look for him. When Goldberg’s brother, Robert, found him, the CEO was still alive but surrounded by blood. According to a spokesman, Goldberg’s skull had cracked open after he had evidently collapsed and fallen off the treadmill. Goldberg was taken to Hospital San Javier in Nuevo Vallarta, where the SurveyMonkey CEO reportedly died shortly after as a result of severe head trauma, as well as hypovolemic shock.
Dave Goldberg is best known for his successful company Survey Monkey, and with his wife Sandberg, COO of Facebook, is a member of one of Silicon Valley’s power couples. Having grown up in Minneapolis as the son of a law school professor, he had originally planned to pursue a career in law after attending Harvard, where he earned his undergraduate degree in government and history. However, after taking a two-year break from education, where he worked for Bain as a consultant, traveling from city to city, he decided that law was not the career he wished to choose.
After leaving Bain, Goldberg accepted a job position in L.A. at Capitol Records through a referral of a friend. Using his love and knowledge of music, he helped double sales for the company and got its products into numerous chains, including Starbucks. In fact, it was the Starbucks deal, which in 1993 provided him with the impetus to start his own company, Launch Media, with the idea of making music from lesser known artists more accessible to the public. Launch Media generated much of its revenue from ads–one of the first internet companies to do so, and after switching from CD-ROMs to streaming music, Goldberg in 1999, decided to take the company public, raising its net worth to $300 million at the height of the dot-com bubble.
After its acquisition by Yahoo!, Launch Media’s as well as Yahoo!’s stock declined by over 90 percent as a result of the dot-com bust. However, Goldberg continued to work for Yahoo! for six years, meeting his wife Sandberg, who during that time was the VP of sales at Yahoo!’s main rival competitor, Google. By 2007, Goldberg had grown tired of working at Yahoo!, quit, and moved to the Bay area, where he worked at several start-ups including Benchmark and Ancestry.com, before becoming a part of SurveyMonkey, building the company up to its $2 billion net worth. However, rather than taking the company public, like he did with his first one, Launch Media, Goldberg decided instead to cash out the equity to employees and investors.
As a result of his ingenuity, SurveyMonkey grew to a become one of Silicon Valley’s most successful operations, with a customer base of 25 million, and a workforce of 500 people, creating over 90 million surveys in 60 different languages per month. In that time, it formed partnerships with several companies including Hootsuite, Salesforce, and Mailchimp, where it integrates its technology.
In addition to his signature accomplishments in the tech arena were his monumental contributions to women’s causes, which helped spur his wife into becoming an executive of Silicon Valley, an equal of power and influence as her husband. When asked about his recent death, she declined to comment. Following the severe head trauma from which the late CEO of SurveyMonkey had died and his funeral, the family is planning an invitation-only event in celebration of Goldberg’s life, which will be held at Stanford Memorial Auditorium on Tuesday. In the spirit of the deceased’s aversion of ties, the male members attending were urged not to wear them. In addition to Sandberg and their two children, the late CEO is survived by Paula Goldberg, his mother.
By Bill Ades
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