Longtime Apple board member and Silicon Valley legend Bill Campbell has died
He had been nicknamed "The Coach" around Silicon Valley because of his close friendships with various valley CEOs, such as Apple founder Steve Jobs and Google's Larry Page, and because before his career in technology, he was a football coach at Columbia University.
Campbell was a longtime Jobs confidant, and had served on Apple's board of directors for 17 years before he stepped down in 2014. He had also served as CEO of Intuit. He had worked in several key positions valley companies like Apple, Claris, and Go.
"Growth is the goal and growth comes through having innovation. Innovation comes through having great engineers, not great product-marketing guys," Campbell once told Charlie Munger.
Venture capitalist Bill Gurley told Fortune in 2008 that "when you have Bill coaching the entrepreneurs, it's like having extra wildcards in a game of five-card draw."
"His contribution to Google - it is literally not possible to overstate. He essentially architected the organizational structure," former Google CEO Eric Schmidt said about Campbell in 2008.
When a valley CEO wanted his advice, coaching sessions would "often occur over beers and chicken wings at the Old Pro, a sports-themed bar Campbell owns in downtown Palo Alto," Fortune reported in 2014.
In fact, there was a period of time where he was both on the Apple board and Google's board simultaneously. "Steve would say, 'If you're helping them you're hurting me.' He would yell at me," Campbell told Fortune. "I'd say, 'I can't do HTML, come on. I'm just coaching them on how to run their company better.'"
Former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo gave Campbell high praise, given that Costolo himself used to be a stand-up comedian
Just hearing the news about Bill Campbell. Horrible. Called me on my last day at Twitter & had both the funniest & most insightful comments
Just hearing the news about Bill Campbell. Horrible. Called me on my last day at Twitter & had both the funniest & most insightful comments- dick costolo (@dickc) April 18, 2016
John Lilly, a VC at Greylock, had this to say:
RIP Bill Campbell. Incredible contributions of all kinds. He'll be missed greatly.- John Lilly (@johnolilly) April 18, 2016
If you want a sense of what Campbell was like, here's an hour-long video of him sharing leadership tips alongside Intuit CEO Brad Smith. It's from April 2013.
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