Bill Campbell, former Intuit CEO and ‘The Coach’ of Silicon Valley, dies

Bill Campbell, the former CEO and chairman of Intuit, who was known as “The Coach” throughout Silicon Valley by the many executives, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists he advised, has died, Intuit has confirmed.

“Bill is revered beyond Silicon Valley for his kindness, his coaching and his friendship that created enduring relationships and had significant impact across the industry, and across the world,” Intuit Chairman and CEO Brad Smith said in an emailed statement. “His passing is a deep loss for us at Intuit and for everyone he touched across the valley and beyond.”

Recode reported that Campbell had been fighting cancer.

Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, which often enlisted Campbell to work with its portfolio companies, issued the following statement:

Bill Campbell passed peacefully in his sleep after a long battle with cancer. The family appreciates all the love and support but asks for privacy at this time.

In September, Campbell spoke at the Watermark Entrepreneur Conference where Cowboy Ventures’ Aileen Lee interviewed the Silicon Valley icon on leadership and risk taking. He was warm, humble and encouraging to the gathered female entrepreneurs and business leaders.

Campbell actually did coach football at his alma matter, Columbia University, before he jumped into the tech industry, working at Kodak and then recruited by Apple CEO John Sculley to be the head of marketing. There he forged a close friendship with Steve Jobs, the company’s co-founder and CEO.

Throughout their friendship, they would take a regular Sunday walk. Campbell served on Apple’s board for 17 years until retiring in 2014.

But that friendship wasn’t always easy. During the same period, Campbell was also advising Google’s top leaders, while the two companies were starting to go head to head in the smartphone space and other realms.

In fact, during the anti-employee poaching lawsuit, documents showed that Google executives pleaded with Campbell to intervene with Jobs during those regular Sunday walks, as Pando Daily reported.

Campbell told Fortune about the conflict:

Steve would say, ‘If you’re helping them you’re hurting me.’ He would yell at me,” recalls Campbell, whose normal banter typically needs to be sanitized for most publications. “I’d say, ‘I can’t do HTML, come on. I’m just coaching them on how to run their company better.’” He continued in both roles for years.

Recently, Kleiner Perkins’ Randy Komisar posted an interview he did with Campbell about mentoring and Silicon Valley.

Above:  Bill Campbell, right, with Aileen Lee of Cowboy Ventures in September 2015. (Michelle Quinn/Mercury News)


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