Thursday, July 31, 2008

In Memory of Keith Benjamin

We mourn the passing of our friend and partner, Keith Benjamin. He was a kind and loving person who adored his family, loved his work and was passionate about everything he did. We will miss him very much. Please keep his family in your prayers.

Please use the comment space below to leave your remembrances for the benefit of Nancy, Bruce and Peri.


Kip said...

I'm going to especially miss Keith's smiling face when he arrived at work every morning, when he got up to go skiing or when he was starting some other adventure. For Keith every day was a bright, new day, full of possibilities and opportunities. It was made all the better for him since he knew that he was going to end that day with his family, who he loved most of all. We really will miss Keith very much.

Anonymous said...

I can honestly say that Keith was full of more life and true joy than anyone I have ever met. He certainly lived his life to the fullest in every way possible. He was one of the kindest, most generous, and supportive people I have known. Anyone who has had the privilege of meeting him could certainly say the same. I will never forget him, and the way he greeted me each time he saw me with his signature, "Hey boss!".

My heart goes out to his family during this difficult time.

-Kelly Wilkinson

Anonymous said...

I am sitting in my office fighting back the tears. Keith had a gentleness to his spirit and a sincerity that truly differentiated him. While I initially met Keith in a professional context, what I will remember most is how "present" he was and the joy he took at playing with his toddler son at the Cow Hollow playground, many years ago. I feel fortunate to have known him and will miss him greatly. May his memory be a blessing to us all.

I sincerely regret that we will be out of town on Sunday. Our warmest condolences to his family.

Ron Lissak
Catapult Advisors

SLarsen said...

This is such a total shock. I know few people as alive as Keith. We met in the late 90's and finally got the chance to work together in 2003. At Levensohn, he (along with Brian Jacobs) recruited me to take over at BigFix, a company in which he'd recently invested. Keith served on the board of directors for the year I was CEO. Keith was a fantastic mentor, wonderful friend, skilled coach and a thoughtful advisor. He encouraged me to call him day or night – and I did. And he returned the favor, calling at odd hours and weekends with thoughts on the business. He entertained me in his home and I met his wife and children. He was one of the smartest people I've ever met. He passionately poured himself into his work and into everything he did. Most of all, he loved his family. They were always the center of his life. No meeting began without an update of what was going on with his kids. I'm sure going to miss him.
Steve Larsen
Krugle, Inc.

djr said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dave Robbins said...

No meeting, conversation, or brief chat failed to begin or end without Keith speaking glowingly about his family. The pride he displayed while regaling us about the latest happenings in their life was a glorious thing to behold. And in those moments, you saw what made Keith so special. He lived his life in a rush of all encompassing involvement that left you with no choice but to try and keep up with him.

I worked with Keith for five years and Keith made business personal, in a good way. He was fully engaged, fully supportive and completely without guile. Those of us who knew him well are far better off for having known him.

My thoughts are with his entire family.

Dave Robbins

Anonymous said...

My kids are the same ages as Keith's. I want them to know that their dad was very smart, very honorable, incredibly decent and supportive of others, including me. I watched Keith from afar during the heady internet days. I was running corporate finance at Prudential Securities and he was the internet analyst at Robertson Stephens. I admit to being jealous of Sandy Robertson that he had Keith and we did not. Later, I was Vice Chairman of The NASDAQ Stock Market and was in awe of Keith's timing - he moved into venture capital before the bubble burst - a superior sense of timing. We worked together on BigFix. He was so solid. He was smart. He was fun to be around. He clearly loved and was proud of his kids. Honest, ethical and forthright. A real mensch. Someone I am very proud to have known. Someone I will miss terribly.

Brett Hurt said...

On Wednesday, I wrote a tribute to Keith here.

I will sincerely miss him as a great friend and mentor.

Matt Cohen said...

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 mentorship, 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.

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 Brandy, and the team here at OneSpot are with Keith's family, friends, and colleagues.

Gary Lauder said...

I have known Keith since he moved to the bay area in the early 90's. He was exceptionally bright, quick, affable and an overall pleasure to be with. I feel lucky to have known him, but regret not getting to know him better.

My thoughts are with you all.

-Gary Lauder

jfan said...

What struck me the most about Keith was the positive energy and enthusiasm he always brought with him. You could feel a room pick up when he was around. I only had a handful of conversations with him, but you could always tell when he was in the office from the energy he carried with him. As Dave says above, we are far better off for having known him and having him involved in our lives.

My condolences to Keith's family...

Tiny Noodle said...

I had the good fortune to meet Keith several years ago when I worked at a start-up his firm had funded. He was a terrific partner and advisor to the firm. After I left the start-up, we kept in touch over the years. He served as a reference for me a few times, acted as a sounding board, and generally was a friend.

I will miss Keith, and send my condolences to his family and friends.

Patricia Carberry-Harris

Alona said...

I will always admire Keith's dedication to his family. Keith proudly shared photos and stories of Bruce's study trips and Peri's ballet tutus. He knew what was important. -Alona

Cristy said...

Keith lived life with passion, integrity and humor. I am ever grateful for the seven years I spent working for him at Robertson and Highland. Being on Keith's team was intense work, but also incredibly fun work.

Whether he was pitching a deal, preparing for marriage or fatherhood, or refocusing on a new sport, Keith brought great enthusiasm to every endeavor. You couldn't help but be carried along in his excitement.

He was a wonderful mentor - I owe much of my professional success to Keith. He was fiercely loyal to his team, as if they were part of his family. In both great times and more challenging times, Keith always managed to keep his team smiling.

As others have mentioned, his true passion was his family. To Nancy, Bruce, Peri and Bonnie- Keith was such a proud husband, father and brother. Whenever he spoke about you, you could just feel the love and devotion in his words.

Keith - you will be greatly missed!

Cristy Barnes

Amy Senk said...

I loved being around Keith. He always had something interesting going on that was fascinating to hear about, but he also had a way of really listening to you so that you knew he was paying attention. I remember being seated next to him at his 40th birthday party and feeling privileged to have that seat of honor; besides, he was really funny and entertaining. We spent so much time together when we lived in San Francisco, so many really important events, from weddings to baby showers, vacations and holidays. This is such a huge loss for all of us, and I hope Nancy and her kids know that we are sending all our love and thoughts of comfort.

googlegroup said...

Keith was such a special person and such a gift to this world. We had great times at Robertson Stephens doing "due diligence" together on PC and console games. Keith showed thru his example the importance of balancing work and still enjoying life. (I'm still trying to learn the part about keeping my desk as organized as him.)
Keith loved his family and lived life full of joy. He treated people with respect, regardless of their titles or what they could do for him. My dealings with Keith usually ended with me learning something new and a big smile on my face.
Keith will be missed dearly.
Patrick Lin

jennifer jones said...

Keith was an awesome person. He was fun, smart, funny, and loved his family dearly. I was always impressed with how he would take the time to see his kids performances, talk about their challenges and really knew who they were as individuals. I had worked with him for almost seven years and he as are all the partners at LVP just amazing people who are people first then VCs. I will miss him.

Todd Friedman said...

Keith was such a special person. I met him back in NY when he was covering a company where I worked. You always got the sense that he loved what he was doing, and that if he couldn't love it, then he would do something else. When I moved out to SF, I knew almost no one, and Keith was always willing to be a mentor, a friend, a reference, or whatever he could to help out. He'll be truly missed and our hearts go out to his family.

- Todd Friedman

Idit Harel Caperton said...

Oh my god. This is shocking. I’m here from NYC for a Stanford Business School Executive Education Program and I was about to email Keith and go see him next week after my program is over! I did not see him for a while, and I really wanted to reconnect and brainstorm with him about my new Foundation. I treasured our meetings and emails in the past 10 years since I first met him; our conversations were filled with his wise business insights, clever industry analysis, and loads of clever energy.

Hard to believe he is gone. I had the good fortune to work and talk with Keith often during 1998-2000 as the CEO and founder of MaMaMedia, he was at Robertson Stephens, one of that era’s star Internet Analysts... He then moved into venture capital (Highland Capital and Levensohn), and we kept in touch over the years… we’ll meet when I was on the west coast and wanted his attention on a new investment opportunity, seeking his thoughtful advice and worldview. I can’t forget one beautiful lunch he and Nancy organized for me and my husband in his beautiful home, shortly after our marriage in 2003.

Keith loved traveling to faraway places, and then emailed fantastic photos… He enjoyed the beauty of our world in full. He loved his work. And - he really loved Bruce and Peri. I remember when they were born… He asked me about parenthood and fun ways for a contemporary digital family to be learning and playing together... "When should I buy Bruce his first computer?" he would ask... Keith is someone I am very proud to have known. I learned from him and will miss him.

My deepest condolences to Nancy and the children. My heart goes to them. I was 8 when my father died from a sudden heart attack, and I know what it means for life – all the challenging and sad stuff. This is why I am so deeply gloomy right now. However, eventually, I know from experience, that also some good comes out of a personal traumatic experience of this kind.

Sending my love, Idit

Faruq said...

I knew Keith casually when he was at Robertson, and then met him again when the team was fundraising. I recall him as cheerful, confident, smart and congenial, in the best tradition of silicon valley, and someone I would want to know better.

For him to be felled in his prime is tragic indeed, and my deepest condolences to his family.

--Faruq Ahmad

Armando Pauker said...

I met Keith in 2002 or so when we both served on the board of a software company. He was articulate, clear, humorous, and direct. He was skilled at working through difficult company issues. I learned a lot from him. We were just about to invest in another deal together; this is something we had talked about for some time.

Our friendship extended into boxing, training and physical fitness. It included several trips to his gym where we shared techniques and methods.

I will miss his friendship, insight, and bright, strong spirit. He was a very kind person.

Lisa Horn Chainey said...

I met Keith in NY in the 1980s as both of us were starting our careers. I can recall that whenever we had meetings with my clients, they were the most productive and enjoyable due to his style and sense of humor. We both ended up in SF within a year of each other and while our careers took disparate paths in subsequent years, I admired his successes and professionalism from afar. While it's been 10+ years or so since we had the opportunity to talk, I was lucky to know him and will likely not forget him. My thoughts and prayers are with his family. - Lisa Horn Chainey

David Appelbaum said...

Keith was one of those rare individuals who was always who he was - no pretense, no dishonesty, no phoniness. Working in this industry where people are always on the quest for the "next big thing" and cynically searching for the next big payday, Keith was fundamentally different - he was simply devoid of cynicism. The joy, the enthusiasm and sense of wonder he brought to business was infectious. It was simply impossible to sit in a meeting with Keith and not get swept up in his passion for the possible. To Keith all things were possible and with hard work, creativity, and intelligence, were probable. There were no boundaries.

Keith was always a tremendous fan of many of my more outre programs we ran at BigFix. The more edgy, the more "out-there", the more creative, the more excited and enthusiastic he would become. In our last meeting only a week ago, we were "dueling" with laser sword apps on our iPhones and brainstorming how we could do something similar for BigFix. That to me sums up Keith perfectly - a man with a totally unique sense of play combined with the solid business know-how of a successful entrepreneur. This industry as a whole needs more Keiths and we are all infinitely lessened by his tragic loss.

David Appelbaum

Tom said...

Keith was a friend and a colleague. His insights and direction helped all of us at Velosel & Levanta. We will all miss him greatly.

Tom Jones

Rich Shane said...

I met Keith when he was an analyst at Robertson Stephens in 1999. He was one of the prominent voices of the Internet at the time. Back then he was a kind and thoughtful person who had a "happy go lucky" air about him. I reconnected with him again in 2006. He still had the same wonderful personality. He was approachable and kind, just like I remembered. I really enjoyed the brief interaction I had with him. I am very sad to learn of his death.

My heart goes out to his family. I am so sorry for your loss.

Bill Hildebolt said...

Keith was a special person. We met Keith during our fund-raising process. He made a huge & lasting impression. He was an incredible listener. In our first meeting, he didn't talk for the first 45 minutes (it was scary actually…who knew a VC could show such restraint?!). He was an incredible giver. Even after we stopped talking to Levensohn, Keith was the first person we'd call to get a 3rd party perspective and he always answered. And he was incredibly open. As he worked to get to know us, we had dinner. At his house. With his family.

When someone dies, we often say that we’re crying for ourselves. In Keith’s case, I think we cry for everyone who knew him. Keith, no one can take your place, but I’m going to try my very best to emulate your selflessness and make the world a better place, just like you did.

ElisaC said...

I also met Keith early last year as my company was going through its first funding experience. Keith demonstrated a lot of qualities we weren't exactly expecting from the venture world: Kindness, complete sincerity, a willingness to simply be up front...and what everyone else has mentioned: a love for his family that never failed to shine through.

I am my partners, Lisa Stone and Jory Des Jardins, were shocked at this news, and are so very sorry for the loss to both his family and his colleagues at LVP.

-Elisa Camahort Page

Kerry said...

This is very sad news indeed. I don’t know when I have met a kinder, brighter, more sincere person. I met Keith through my old business; I helped him design his home audio and video systems. Over the years we knew each other he became my favorite client. A question, complaint, inquiry or positive comment was always put forth in the same kind, intelligent patient manner. No process to complicated or problem unsolvable. As I sold my company and began new things Keith was interested and encouraging. What a great friend. I will miss him.
My thoughts and sympathies are with Nancy and the family.

Kerry Blessing
K.Blessing & Associates

Wendy Woska said...

Thank you for the beautiful memorial service yesterday.

Keith was a beloved mentor to me. I met him early in my career and had the honor of being his executive assistant for four years at Robertson Stephens and Highland.

Keith took exceptional care of our team. He taught me to focus on what matters while keeping expectations in check. He also taught me to appreciate and crave Quality.

I feel truly blessed to have crossed paths with Keith.

With gratitude,

Barak Kassar said...

Thank you for making this page. Every time I look at it I imagine Keith's picture somehow coming alive and talking. Keith was always so very much alive, so overflowing with energy---and such a talker, too. I want to thank Keith for all the kindness he showed me over many years. And I want to send my love and support to Nancy, Bruce and Peri.

Robert said...

Although I have known Keith for about 7 years, we only recently started working together on Plum, one of his investments. He was a very special human being, with a boundless energy for life. I feel very fortunate to have known him.

Rob Gorlin

Anonymous said...

Nancy - I am so so very sorry for your loss. My sister experienced this 6 years ago when her husband died very suddenly of a heart attack just a few months after they adopted a baby daughter. My thoughts and prayers are with you because I know what you are going through. Please let me know if I can be of any help or comfort.

Alison Avagliano (Natalie W.'s friend)...

Anonymous said...

From all the Turpin Family our heartfelt condolences to Keith's family and friends in this extremely difficult time. We will miss Keith's great enthusiasm for life and his work as well as his warm personality.

Mark A Cohn said...

To the family and friends of Keith:
You have my deepest sympathies for your loss. I knew Keith professionally in the 90's and respected him for his competence and attitude. He was a delight to be around and will be greatly missed.
I wish you peace as you begin your life without him. I'll speak of him, from time to time, always with admiration.

Mary Williams said...

I knew Keith in the '70s, when he lived in San Francisco for the first time, before he went back to school at NYU to pursue his financial career. He adored his father, his mother, and his sister. At the time Keith was just starting to explore his culinary interests, and we enjoyed trips to Napa, Mendocino and Carmel before they were ultra popular. I still have a few mementos of Keith because he affected my life in a very positive way.

Needless to say our lives moved along separate paths, and we lost touch...although due to his success I could read bits about him on the internet. I was so happy to learn that he moved back to the Bay Area; glad that he had found his true love and had children; certain that he had accomplished many of his goals. Now I am shocked that this accident occured and he is gone, and sad to learn that Audrey has passed as well.

To his wife and Bonnie, I am so so sorry for your loss. Having lost both my husband and my brother to cancer, I know the grief and sadness that you feel now and that you'll live with to some degree for years to come. Keith is another one who has left us much to soon. He was all heart, and may your loving memories of him bring you peace.

Armando Pauker said...

Even after all these years, I still remember Keith and his humor and insight.

He always had a smile and point of view.

Keith, I miss you.