‘Coach’ Bill Campbell Dies at 75

John Markoff, writing for the NYT:

Bill Campbell, one of the most influential background players in Silicon Valley, who was known as “coach” there for his work advising technology industry stars like Steve Jobs at Apple and Larry Page at Google, died on Monday at his home in Palo Alto, Calif. He was 75.

His family said the cause was cancer.

It’s almost impossible to overstate how influential Campbell was in Silicon Valley:

Mr. Campbell was an Eastman Kodak executive in Europe when he was recruited to Silicon Valley in 1983 by Apple’s chief executive at the time, John Sculley. Mr. Sculley named him vice president of marketing. Mr. Campbell later played a significant role in Apple’s spectacular turnaround when Steve Jobs, who had been fired by Mr. Sculley, returned to the company in 1997. Apple went on to revamp its Mac computer line and introduce the iPod, iPhone and iPad.

Mr. Campbell was an Apple director from 1997 until 2014.

It was Mr. Doerr who brought Mr. Campbell to Google to serve as an informal adviser to the two founders, Mr. Page and Sergey Brin. Mr. Campbell was instrumental in the hiring of Eric Schmidt to be Google’s chief executive in August 2001.

Strikingly, Mr. Campbell’s advisory role was often unpaid, at his insistence; he said he wanted to pay back what he felt was a debt to the nation’s technology region.

At Google, for example, he helped shape its leadership for a generation or more but, except for a single stock grant, never had a formal financial relationship with the company, according to Mr. Schmidt, who is now Google’s chairman. “Google would not be the company it is today without the influence of Bill Campbell,” Mr. Schmidt said, “and my guess is Apple wouldn’t be, either.”

Remember Claris? That was Bill Campbell:

Mr. Campbell was deeply involved in Silicon Valley’s start-up culture as well. In 1987 he led a group of Apple executives in setting up a software subsidiary, Claris, with the ultimate goal of spinning the company off as a start-up. When Apple decided not to let Claris become a separate public company, many of the executives, including Mr. Campbell, left.

Apple has a nice tribute on their home page today.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016