Keith BenjaminWith the sudden passing of my father a month ago, this has been a tough Summer on the personal front.  And since Friday, I have been grieving for a great friend and mentor that has been in a deep coma.  Tragically, last night Keith Benjamin passed away.  Debra, Rachel, and I knew Keith and his wife and children.  We recently had dinner with them at their new San Francisco home in June on our way to Hawaii to celebrate our 12-year anniversary.  I made a point to call Keith to catch up over lunch on almost every visit to the Bay Area.  He was even kind enough to invite me and my co-founder, Brant, to stay at their home on our fundraising trips to the Bay Area when starting Bazaarvoice.

Keith’s partnership posted information on his passing on their home page today.

As a friend and mentor, Keith was a truly amazing person.

First, as third-generation Wall Street, he was always right on with his market predictions.  He was “the guy” I went to for all market advice.  I remember him telling me that Amazon.com was an incredible buy during a period where all of my Wharton MBA alums were telling me that it was a sell.  Analysts were reporting that Amazon.com would never become profitable, no matter the scale.  I think this was 2001 when everyone in dot-coms were panicking.   Keith told me “I’m putting a huge part of my mother’s retirement into Amazon.com”.  He wasn’t telling me to do the same – that wouldn’t have been his way.  He was just sharing the information with a good friend, who was younger and confused by the dot-com carnage.  Truthfully, I thought that was a crazy move.  But he was right.  And I started to really listen to his advice after that.  And he was always right.  He was a contrarian, which made him a good VC too.

Second, Keith was an incredible mentor to a young CEO (me).  He joined my Board of Directors at Coremetrics in February of 2000, one year after I founded the company.  Keith was my go-to resource for heavy issues.  I could always count on him to give me his best advice.  He was a true sounding board.  And he really knew how to encourage me.  He was the type of person that you wanted to shine in front of, and he brought out the best in me.

Third, Keith reinforced the importance of family to me.  He was a very caring husband and father.  Debra and I were younger, without children yet, when I started to work with Keith.  He and his wife were role models to aspire to.  Keith was a Total Leader (see what that means), with extraordinarily strong performance in career, family, and self.

I am incredibly humbled to have known and worked with Keith.  He was an amazing man and incredible mentor and friend.  I am a better man for having known him.  And I will miss him very much.

You may want to take some time to read his bio and his blog posts.  He was exceptionally smart.  From my perspective, he was one of the founders of the Internet movement that we all financially benefit from now.

Our prayers and thoughts are with his wife and children now.  We will be attending the memorial service.

13 Responses to “The Loss of a Great Friend, Mentor, and Total Leader”

  1. richard

    This is the Keith Benjamin I went to high school with in 1975. We were classmates at Choate in Wallingford, Connecticut. I was just curious about him and Googled his name and came upon this article about his death. I haven’t seen him since high school, but I recognize his picture. He appeared almost the same as he was 37 years ago. We were squash partners. He was an intelligent person, avid reader and interested in school politics. Rest in peace, Keith.
    your friend,
    richard

  2. Nonee

    Keith had no atheletic talent at all and simply shouldnt have been boxing. Worst ever!

  3. Nonee

    Keith had no atheletic talent at all and simply shouldnt have been boxing. Worst ever!

  4. Tara Gear

    Keith was always so upbeat and was kind beyond words. He made time for people and was always available for counsel. He was a great man with outstanding character and his kindness shall always be remembered. My condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.

  5. Tara Gear

    Keith was always so upbeat and was kind beyond words. He made time for people and was always available for counsel. He was a great man with outstanding character and his kindness shall always be remembered. My condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.

  6. Patricia Carberry-Harris

    Keith was one of the best -and nicest – VC’s I’ve ever met. From the days I was at Coremetrics and seeing the interactions and advice he gave to a very youthful, green team of a start-up in the dot com days – to the friendship we forged at that time – he was always there to help and advise.

    He was a gentleman, a proud and loving husband and father, an honest and truthful person. Over the years I’ve worked with many folks in the business, and he always stood out as one of the truly good guys.

    Keith, may the four winds blow you safely home.

  7. Patricia Carberry-Harris

    Keith was one of the best -and nicest – VC’s I’ve ever met. From the days I was at Coremetrics and seeing the interactions and advice he gave to a very youthful, green team of a start-up in the dot com days – to the friendship we forged at that time – he was always there to help and advise.

    He was a gentleman, a proud and loving husband and father, an honest and truthful person. Over the years I’ve worked with many folks in the business, and he always stood out as one of the truly good guys.

    Keith, may the four winds blow you safely home.

  8. Scott Schopen

    Keith was one of the most genuinely nice individuals I ever met. His passion for life was inspiring and his generous spirit was evident to everyone who knew him. He will be greatly missed.

  9. Scott Schopen

    Keith was one of the most genuinely nice individuals I ever met. His passion for life was inspiring and his generous spirit was evident to everyone who knew him. He will be greatly missed.

  10. The loss of Keith is a terrible blow.

    In the too-short time I have known him he has made a huge impression on me with his passion and kindness. His professional advice and support were invaluable, but what I will always remember is the positive energy and inspiration I have gotten from every conversation with him. I left every meeting or phone call with the feeling that all things were possible: to live life to its fullest, to meet every experience with joy, and to remember that hard work and creative accomplishment were completely compatible with a commitment to treasuring time with family. All these things I hope to do as I saw Keith do them, and to be for for my family what Keith has been for his.

    Thank you Brett, for introducing me to Keith – he leaves behind an incredible legacy in the people that he has helped and influenced over the years, and I deeply regret that I won’t get the chance to know this special and unique person better. He will always be a role model for me – the thoughts of myself, my wife, and the team here at OneSpot are with his family, friends, and colleagues.

  11. The loss of Keith is a terrible blow.

    In the too-short time I have known him he has made a huge impression on me with his passion and kindness. His professional advice and support were invaluable, but what I will always remember is the positive energy and inspiration I have gotten from every conversation with him. I left every meeting or phone call with the feeling that all things were possible: to live life to its fullest, to meet every experience with joy, and to remember that hard work and creative accomplishment were completely compatible with a commitment to treasuring time with family. All these things I hope to do as I saw Keith do them, and to be for for my family what Keith has been for his.

    Thank you Brett, for introducing me to Keith – he leaves behind an incredible legacy in the people that he has helped and influenced over the years, and I deeply regret that I won’t get the chance to know this special and unique person better. He will always be a role model for me – the thoughts of myself, my wife, and the team here at OneSpot are with his family, friends, and colleagues.

  12. Bong Suh

    I want to echo some of the sentiment you mention in your very nice and thoughful tribute. In my many professional interactions with Keith, either when we were at Roberston together or when we worked together on VC projects, he would always focused on balance and on what mattered most. I always loved the fact that he would inevitably get us to discuss family, community, and personal passions during our business meetings. He was equally passionate about each of these areas as well as working with great entreprenuers.

    He will be sorely missed for both his wisdom and passion. Keith was always an independent thinker and doer (for lack of a better word) which made him a joy to know and work with. Also, he was usually right! Also, those who knew Keith knew how he carried out his interests with passion and was always “all in”. Keith’s commitment and passion that he put into each aspect of his life is something that has always been–and will continue to be–an inspiration.

    Our hearts go out to Nancy and the kids.

    –Bong

  13. Bong Suh

    I want to echo some of the sentiment you mention in your very nice and thoughful tribute. In my many professional interactions with Keith, either when we were at Roberston together or when we worked together on VC projects, he would always focused on balance and on what mattered most. I always loved the fact that he would inevitably get us to discuss family, community, and personal passions during our business meetings. He was equally passionate about each of these areas as well as working with great entreprenuers.

    He will be sorely missed for both his wisdom and passion. Keith was always an independent thinker and doer (for lack of a better word) which made him a joy to know and work with. Also, he was usually right! Also, those who knew Keith knew how he carried out his interests with passion and was always “all in”. Keith’s commitment and passion that he put into each aspect of his life is something that has always been–and will continue to be–an inspiration.

    Our hearts go out to Nancy and the kids.

    –Bong

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