"Coach" Bill Campbell, an executive at Apple andIntuit who mentored the likes of Steve Jobs, Google co-founder Larry Page and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, died Monday morning of cancer after a long illness, according to venture-capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, which spoke on behalf of the Campbell family. He was 75.
Campbell was not a household name in thePantheon of high-tech execs but his leadership skills left an indelible impact on two generations, from Apple and Amazon to Google, Intuit and scores of start-ups.
"Silicon Valley lost a giant," KPCB general partner John Doerr said in a tweet today.
"A very sad day. My deepest condolences to his family. Bill was instrumental as a mentor — for me, for Google, for all Valley entrepreneurs," Alphabet Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said in another tweet today.
BEHIND THE SCENES
Despite his low profile, Campbell was a behind-the-scenes power broker at Apple, where he was most closely identified. He joined the company in 1983 when then-CEO John Sculley recruited him to head marketing and served on Apple’s board for 17 years until he stepped down in 2014.
"Bill Campbell was a coach and mentor to many of us at Apple, and a member of our family for decades as an executive, advisor and ultimately a member of our board," Apple said in a statement.
In an interview with Fortune in 2008, Jobs said Campbell "loves people, and he loves growing people."
Campbell, who earned his moniker as a football coach at Columbia University (1974-9), where he earned undergradute and graduate degrees, often used sports analogies on teamwork to drive home his business philosophy. The Homestead, Pa., native was also a long-time Intuit board member and CEO of Apple software spin-off Claris.
The gregarious Campbell shared his management and sports insights during an annual holiday segment on local sports-talk radio station KNBR-AM in San Francisco.
Campbell helped raise millions for school districts in his native Pennsylvania, including $8.7 million to create a foundation for academic and structural improvements.
Those who worked for and with Campbell described a generous, father-like figure.
"Profoundly sad to hear Bill Campbell has died. Feel lucky to have been coached by him. We shared a love for Butte, Montana & fly fishing," Dave Morin, CEO of social network Path and a former Facebook executive, said in a tweet.
Added former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo in a tweet: "Called me on my last day at Twitter & had both the funniest & most insightful comments."
Campbell is the second seminal figure in Silicon Valley to pass away in recent weeks.
Last month, former Intel CEO Andy Grove, 79, died. The Hungarian-born Grove helped spur the semiconductor revolution while building Intel into a worldwide technology powerhouse.
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