UPDATED 11:14 EST / JUNE 06 2009

Rajeev Motwani, Friend to All Pursuers of Life, Dies Suddenly – Disturbance Felt All Around The Entrepreneur Scene

image For all "Jedi" computer scientists, entrepreneurs, and venture capitalist, there was a deep disturbance in the "entrepreneurship force" yesterday.

Rajeev Motwani, computer science professor at Stanford best know publicly for being part of the founding of Google, died tragically yesterday in his home.

Public image aside, Rajeev is best known around Silicon Valley as an amazing "giver" and friend to all people that have a quest and who pursue "life" – people big, small, poor, or rich.  He loved and lived life.

Just follow the reports from family, friends, peers, and colleagues. He was loved and valued – he was "life-rich". By this standard he was one of the "wealthiest" people in Silicon Valley.

A Friend, Peer, and Colleague to All – From Billionaires to Entrepreneurs

Just yesterday Rajeev’s name came up in a conversation between me and a venture capitalist about a startup that I’m working on. My action item from that meeting was to "ping" Rajeev to get his input (that will never happen).

Rajeev made himself available to many from billionaires like Sergey to entrepreneurs like me. Rajeev was always a catalyst – he made it look effortless. My personal experience with Rajeev speaks volumes about Rajeev, and it is consistent with many others reports in and around Silicon Valley.

He was a peer and a colleague to all.   He epitomized the Silicon Valley way.

At a one-on-one lunch with Rajeev last year in Palo Alto, he and I spent 2 hrs "riffing" on my ideas around data mining social graphs. I remember being so impressed and saying to myself "here is a guy who is literally in the trenches giving me ideas and feedback that will help form my next startup…spending the the time creatively playing with future technology problems and solutions..".

He was co-entrepreneuring with me.   If we were a sports team at SiliconAngle we would wear his number on our shirts.  Rajeev’s thirst for discovery and innovation – in a collaborative way – is the mission of entrepreneurship.

This is the Rajeev story he helped people of all sizes and kinds *and* he never asked anything in return. The combination of his public persona and his personal connection to people he’s impacted makes him a legend.

Three blog posts to read to get a true understanding of the meaning of Rajeev: Seregey Brin, David Hornik, Om Malik

Sergey Brin, founder of Google, writes about Rajeev:

Even though I was just one of hundreds of graduate students in the department, he always made the time and effort to help. Later, when Larry and I began to work together on the research that would lead to Google, Rajeev was there to support us and guide us through challenges, both technical and organizational.

David Hornik of August Capital writes:

Rajeev just wanted to be helpful. And he was. To so many of us. Perhaps that is why so many of us thought of Rajeev as a friend. It is one thing to be friendly with someone in the business world. It is another thing altogether to consider them a friend. Rajeev genuinely liked people and people genuinely liked him.

Although I’ve only met Rajeev for three years ago for the first time, I am touched and deeply saddened by his death. To bring a Star Wars metaphor to describe the feelings of many.. "there is a deep disturbance in the force" of the technology world.

At 47 years young Rajeev impacted many and a void will be there for those venturing to new things in computer science.

Finally I’ll leave this with a final comment from Om Malik.
Fellow New Delian Om Malik writes:

That success never came in the way of Rajeev’s quest for knowledge and innate desire to help others. There wasn’t a startup he didn’t love. Like his chosen specialization of search, Rajeev was searching for the unknown. He was still active as a professor and was teaching a couple of classes as recently as the last semester.

Update: Mike Arrington has a video on Techcrunch of Ron Conway (a close friend and colleague of Rajeev) sharing his tribute to Rajeev yesterday -video captured on YouTube.


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