Details of Silicon Valley exec Dave Goldberg's death emerge

CEO of L.A. startup where Dave Goldberg was a board member describes him as a 'force of goodness'

Dave Goldberg, a 47-year-old Silicon Valley executive who died suddenly last Friday, collapsed while exercising on vacation at a Mexican resort, people close to the family said in a statement Monday.

Efforts to revive Goldberg, who was the husband of Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, were unsuccessful. Citing an unnamed Mexican official, the Associated Press reported that Goldberg suffered severe head trauma and bleeding from an exercising accident.

Friends and family plan to hold a private memorial for him at Stanford University on Tuesday.

The death has shocked people whom Goldberg had worked with in both Northern and Southern California. The one-time Capitol Records executive was regarded as one of the pioneers in bringing music online, having sold a Los Angeles digital media startup to Yahoo in 2001 and then running Yahoo Music for several years.

In 2009, Goldberg became chief executive of SurveyMonkey, which provides online polling tools, when a private equity firm became a majority owner. He held a bachelor’s degree in history and government from Harvard University.

Goldberg also advised young technology companies, and he joined the board of directors of Los Angeles startup FilmTrack last fall after investing in the firm. The company's software helps media companies manage content rights.

Goldberg had also become an authority on workplace issues. In her bestselling book “Lean In,” Sandberg wrote that her husband came up with ideas for women-friendly workplace policies that she hadn't considered. Sandberg has yet to comment on the loss. 

The Walt Disney Co., where Sandberg is a board member, said it had changed the scheduled time of its earnings release on Tuesday to allow staff to attend the memorial service.

Jason Kassin, FilmTrack’s chief executive, described Goldberg as a “force of goodness.”

FilmTrack introduced yoga and spinning classes and has fruit delivered to employees once a week, emulating what Goldberg had done at SurveyMonkey.

“All of his suggestions were about people, employee retention and how to improve their lives,” Kassin said. “He could have easily been about top line or bottom line but he was about people.”

Goldberg operated with no trace of arrogance, wearing sweatshirts to meetings. Family always came first, even if that meant traveling with his son to a business meeting, Kassin said.

“Selfishly, I was looking forward to getting more wisdom from him,” Kassin said. “The world is truly a lesser place for his absence.”

Courtney Holt, chief strategy officer at online video company Maker Studios and a longtime music industry executive, remembered Goldberg as someone who in a sometimes ruthless industry played with his cards showing. During content-licensing negotiations with Holt at one point, Goldberg explained in detail what his business model was.

“He said, 'I’m going to be totally transparent. This is why the deal I’m offering you is the way it is,’” Holt recalled. “It wasn’t just take it or leave it. That stuck with me. I got to see someone who was fully transparent and fully informed. That was so refreshing.”

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