May 2015 Profile: Dave Goldberg, CEO of SurveyMonkey
Born: October 2, 1967 in Minneapolis, MN; passed away May 1, 2015 in Mexico
Energy Type: Emotional Generator
When I heard that Dave Goldberg had died suddenly on May 1 at the age of 47 while on vacation in Mexico with his family, I admit that I had to look more closely to remember who he was and why everyone was so shocked. It turns out that he was the CEO of SurveyMonkey, an online survey tool, as well as the husband of Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and author of the book “Lean In”. As I read more over the next few days, it turned out there was nothing sensational about him – as we might use the word to describe many media figures – but that was just the point. There was nothing that made him especially “news-worthy” for most of his life, except for his death. Overall, he was remarkable in many ways but played a little under the radar, and he was absolutely fine with that.
What many of the obituaries and articles about him revealed was a man who was ultimately successful in his life, but who had struggled to get there. Dave grew up in Minneapolis, went to Harvard and then wasn’t quite sure what to do. As a Generator with an Open G, he was really waiting for something to respond to that also felt good to him and was in the right location. He ran into a bunch of things that didn’t feel good – like his first job and law school – and finally settled into working at Capitol Records in marketing strategy, and then starting a music streaming company called Launch Media with a friend of his. This was before most people had even heard of the Internet! And he did some very innovative things, like coming up with the idea of selling CDs at Starbucks! Who knew it was Dave Goldberg who started that in the early ‘90s while at Capitol? Launch Media was sold to Yahoo in 2001 and he stayed there until 2007. In 2009, he joined SurveyMonkey as CEO with just 12 employees, and grew it to the $2Billion behemoth with over 400 employees that it is today.
But more than his business acumen and natural gift for empowering his friends, colleagues and employees, he was a loyal husband and father, encouraging his wife Sheryl’s career and working side by side on many projects. In her eulogy, she described him as “my rock”. He was a philanthropist, poker player, Vikings fan, and music lover – all done with his own brand of passion that friends loved watching and getting involved with. He was described as generous and curious by many.
So what does Dave Goldberg’s Human Design chart show? Much the same as I’ve described above, as you might imagine. Solid, he was, with all four of the lower energy centers defined: Sacral, Spleen, Solar Plexus and Root. He was grounded, supportive, provocative and a hugger – teddy-bear style. Dave had the entire Defense circuit defined – the channels that connect the Sacral with the Spleen and the Solar Plexus. This circuit is all tribal – it’s all about having, nurturing and raising children to be wonderful adults in our culture. But he did that with his businesses also. It’s protection, education, nutrition, responsibility, values, loyalty and being generous with all those traits. This entire circuit also gives him a huge aura that people just can’t get enough of. His friends stay friends and everyone feels protected in his web of affection. He does have an emotional wave but it’s mild, and likely only shows up in relationships as various degrees of love, in all its dynamic variations.
Dave also had the Ajna and Throat centers defined, connected by the Channel of the Genius (the 23-43). He brilliantly had a knack for discovering or thinking of new trends – in media, music, the Internet, big data – and bringing the right people together to make it happen. He was able to articulate his ideas in a way that brought about the result he was after while empowering everyone along the way. He wanted no accolades for himself; he didn’t need them. It makes me think that he was very comfortable being who he was here to be. He was powerful without being flashy, wealthy without being showy, and brilliant without lauding it over others. He always played the game, and he always won – not quickly, but eventually. And he won so much that he was called the heart and soul of Silicon Valley when he died.
As Adam Grant, a friend and writer put it: “he was the ultimate mensch”. And as Kara Swisher said: “That is exactly the word you would use to describe Dave — a Yiddish term that means a person of integrity and honor, a stand-up guy, someone to admire and emulate, a rock of humanity.” And what a mensch to emulate, now that we know more of his story.