PALO ALTO, Calif. (AP) — Tech industry luminaries and friends gathered Tuesday for a memorial service honoring David Goldberg, a popular business leader whose marriage to Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg made them one of Silicon Valley’s most prominent couples.
U2 vocalist Bono sang before an audience that included Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, film director George Lucas and a host of tech company founders, executives and financiers.
Afterward, mourners emerged teary-eyed from Stanford University’s Memorial Auditorium, many wearing Minnesota Vikings paraphernalia to commemorate the NFL team loved by Goldberg, a Minneapolis native.
The 47-year-old Goldberg died Friday while on a family vacation at a villa near Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. He slipped while exercising on a treadmill in the villa’s gym and struck his head, Mexican officials said.
“Dave was my rock,” Sandberg wrote in a Facebook post Tuesday drawn from remarks she gave at the memorial. “We had 11 truly joyful years of the deepest love, happiest marriage, and truest partnership that I could imagine.”
President Barack Obama extended his sympathies in an earlier post. “His skills as an entrepreneur created opportunity for many; his love for his family was a joy to behold, and his example as a husband and father was something we could all learn from,” Obama wrote on the White House Facebook page.
The message drew online thanks from Sandberg, who described her relationship with Goldberg as a supportive, equal partnership in her 2013 book “Lean In,” about the challenges faced by working women.
Goldberg was staying in Mexico with family at an independently owned villa called Palmasola, where a villa spokeswoman said the accident occurred. Villa guests have privileges at the nearby Four Seasons resort at Punta Mita, about 30 miles from Puerto Vallarta, but the villa is not owned or managed by the hotel chain.
Authorities in the Mexican state of Nayarit, where the villa is located, said an autopsy had ruled out foul play in Goldberg’s death. They noted he suffered a blunt-force injury and a cut on the head but there was no sign of struggle.
There were 24,400 injuries in the U.S. associated with treadmill accidents last year, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which said there had been 30 reported deaths from 2003 to 2012.
Among those at Tuesday’s memorial in the heart of Silicon Valley were Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner, prominent tech investor Reid Hoffman, along with Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman and PayPal co-founder Max Levchin.
After the service ended at midday, mourners exchanged hugs outside the Spanish-style building. A reporter from The Associated Press was not allowed inside during the service, but details were confirmed by two people at the memorial on condition of anonymity because it was a private event.
A genial bear of a man, Goldberg was often introduced in national media appearances as Sandberg’s husband after her book helped spur public dialogue about working women and the need for men to support their spouses by sharing duties at home.
But to many in Silicon Valley, Goldberg was also known as an entrepreneur, investor and mentor who generously shared business advice. He was CEO of SurveyMonkey, a commercial service for conducting online polls, and is credited with overseeing its growth to a current valuation of $2 billion.
“He was a perfect cross between a teddy bear and a tiger,” former Yahoo President Sue Decker wrote on a tribute page for Goldberg. Decker met Goldberg when they both were Yahoo executives.
Other tributes to Goldberg described his low-key humor, love for the Vikings and enthusiasm for playing poker.
Goldberg and Sandberg married in 2004; they have two children. He and Sandberg had frequently spoken about their efforts to share household duties and spend time with their children.
Sandberg also has credited Goldberg with supporting her executive career at Google and Facebook. Stock grants from those jobs have made her a billionaire, and as Facebook’s chief operating officer, she is one of Silicon Valley’s most powerful female executives.
Goldberg was a former executive at Capitol Records before he started Launch Media to publish a digital music magazine. He later ran music programs for Yahoo and worked at Benchmark Capital, a Silicon Valley venture firm.
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