Goldberg Is Remembered as Devoted Friend, Sandberg’s ‘Rock’

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SurveyMonkey.com CEO Dave Goldberg Interview
David "Dave" Goldberg, chief executive officer of SurveyMonkey.com LLC, smiles during a Bloomberg West Television interview in San Francisco, on May 27, 2014. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Silicon Valley entrepreneur Dave Goldberg was remembered on Tuesday as a loyal friend, devoted family member and the ballast to his wife, Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook Inc. and author of the best-selling book “Lean In.”

Goldberg, chief executive officer of Palo Alto, California-based SurveyMonkey, died on Friday while on vacation in Punta Mita, Mexico, at age 47. A memorial service held on the campus of Stanford University was attended by friends, family and employees from SurveyMonkey and Facebook, including Mark Zuckerberg.

“As heartbroken as I am, I am equally grateful,” Sandberg said in an emotional speech. “Even in these last few days of completely unexpected hell, the darkest and saddest moments of my life, I still know how lucky I am.

‘‘Dave gave me the experience of being completely understood, truly supported and deeply and utterly loved,’’ she said. ‘‘Dave was my rock. When I got upset, he stayed calm. When I was worried, he said, ‘we’ll be OK.’ When I wasn’t sure what to do, he figured it out. I sure could use him right about now.”

The service was attended by luminaries from Silicon Valley, Washington and Hollywood, including Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Iger; Ben Affleck; Arianna Huffington; and Timothy Geithner, the former U.S. Treasury Secretary. To open the ceremony, U2’s Bono sang the hit “One,” with lyrics slightly altered for the Jewish ceremony.

Sense of Humor

In eulogies during the ceremony, friends said Goldberg had a warm sense of humor and was quick to make self-effacing comments about being the less-powerful half of a Silicon Valley power couple.

“Dave joked, ‘I run the largest survey company in the world. It just so happens to be the second-largest company run by someone in my house,’’ said Zander Lurie, an executive at GoPro Inc. and SurveyMonkey board member.

The ceremony was held at Stanford Memorial Auditorium, which was filled near its 1,700-seat capacity. Mourners gathered more than an hour before the service started and listened to a mix of Goldberg’s favorite songs, from artists such as R.E.M., U2, the Killers and INXS. A slide show cycled through his life, showing photos of him growing up in Minneapolis; at Harvard University; at various sporting events -- generally in stellar seats near the action; with Sandberg on vacations around the world; and meeting with President Barack Obama.

Made a Mark

The ceremony was infused with warmth and admiration for the mark that Goldberg left on many of those around him.

‘‘Dave was quite simply the person we all hoped to be,’’ said Philip Deutch, an energy banker and close friend. ‘‘He was accomplished and he was laser-focused on the success of his friends in a world that seems to tilt toward exaggeration and self-aggrandizement.’’

He added, ‘‘He was never jealous by the success of others around him. He was confident in his own abilities and standing in the world. He was thrilled by Sheryl’s success, totally and effortlessly.’’

Goldberg’s brother, Rob, also spoke at the ceremony.

‘‘The only two things that Dave cared about were people, first and foremost his family, and ideas,’’ Rob Goldberg said.

Chamath Palihapitiya, a venture capitalist and former Facebook executive, sobbed through a eulogy that recalled frequent trips to Las Vegas, and getting trumped by Goldberg at the poker table with bluffs, which were invariably followed by a loving wink.

‘‘Goldie was the person you went to first,’’ he said. ‘‘He was not only a source of stability but as substantial a person as I have ever known.’’

‘Thrown Into Chaos’

One of Goldberg’s favorite series was the ‘‘Game of Thrones’’ books and HBO TV show. Palihapitiya quoted from it: ‘‘Chaos isn’t a pit, chaos is a ladder,’’ he said, adding, ‘‘I feel that many of our lives were thrown into chaos on Friday, but we must all climb out, step by step, and rung by rung.’’

Some of Goldberg’s quirks were celebrated as well. Scott Tierney, a college roommate, joked that though Sandberg had devoted a chapter to Goldberg’s strengths as a husband in ‘‘Lean In,” he fared poorly in an impromptu game of “Lean In Jeopardy” at his 45th birthday.

“He struggled to remember whether the washing machine was a top-loader,” Tierney said.

Thousands of remembrances and photos have filled Goldberg’s Facebook page in the days since his death, and Sandberg expressed her appreciation for it.

“Each message on Facebook told another story of another person Dave helped,” she said. “We’ll treasure every one of those stories.”

(An earlier version of this story was corrected to fix the U2 song’s title in the fifth paragraph.)

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