I met Dave before I met Sheryl.
Dave joined Yahoo! through the acquisition of Launch, not long after I joined the company as chief financial officer (CFO). He impressed me tremendously. He was smart, hungry and fiercely loyal to his team.
In those days, we sometimes wrestled with classic operator versus CFO tensions. As an entrepreneur used to running his own show, Dave understandably felt our corporate allocations to his P&L seemed arbitrary. And at a time that there were pressures to reduce Yahoo!’s expense base, he made the case for additional headcount to grow his business because he saw great opportunity.
He was tough, logical and passionate. His deep reservoir of persuasion helped me see business issues from all perspectives. And through this process, he made me better at what I did. And Yahoo! better too.
Thank you, Dave.
A few years later, I came to see that the heart Dave put into building his business was nothing compared to the heart he put into building his family. With Sheryl, he was a compassionate, tender, playful and proud husband. Like what I saw with his work team, he was deeply loyal to his home team, which grew to include his children. On this subject, Dave and I were always on the same side. He was a perfect cross between a teddy bear and a tiger. I loved that side of him.
I thank Dave for many things, but perhaps most deeply, for bringing Sheryl into my life.
It was at a wedding in Italy in 2004 that Sheryl and I first connected, a little while after she and Dave were married. She was at Google, then, and I at Yahoo! I had three young children. She and Dave were about to start a family. In life and in our careers, we had a lot in common.
Over the years, as our friendship flourished, Dave’s quiet hand and generosity in my times of need were automatic. Most poignantly, for almost two years, when my marriage broke up and I was struggling to both rebuild my life as a single mom, and also to help lead Yahoo! through its own struggles, I had a home with the Sandberg/Goldberg’s.
They gave me a key to their house, and I stayed with them on many of the nights that I couldn’t be with my children because they were scheduled to be with their dad. During that time, Sheryl and I—two very busy women—developed that type of relationship that roommates do in college and that is rare to create later in life.
I joined their family dinners, we talked at night, and we often worked out or jogged the next morning before work. We had the time and space to really connect in a way that would have been impossible, given the demands in each of our lives, had I not been invited into their home and if Dave hadn’t shared in fostering that environment.
There were many funny moments as well. Sheryl referenced in Lean In the time that she and Mark Zuckerberg had to hide from me while completing their negotiations for her joining Facebook, because they had an interloper (moi) living in their home part-time!
Most guys in a similar situation, might have resisted—or even resented—this arrangement. After all, Dave was very busy with his own career, while also—and to an unusual extent—balancing his share of the domestic responsibilities.
I am sure both he and Sheryl would have loved more alone time, without me bounding up to their bedroom in my jammers to chat. But I never felt anything other than a warm welcome. This, to me, was a truly remarkable quality in Dave. And I thank him for it.
It was also in these years that Sheryl taught me her philosophy about the guys you date, and the guys you marry. Dave was Exhibit A for the latter. We talked about second marriages and how to get it right. Dave made it easy to visualize the dream, by watching the way he lived and the choices he made. I took note, as I ventured back into a life relationship.
And this brings me to my final thank you to Dave.
Thank you for being a role model—for my son and my daughters—and for all of us who knew you. You advocated for women and girls in the way you lived your life—you both talked the talk and walked the walk. We will all tell your story for years to come.
Dave, you helped make me better in business. Your generosity in opening your home helped me heal the hole in my heart, as I learned how to carry on, put on a happy face, and be there for my kids and Yahoo! during a time of need. You brought me Sheryl, for which I am eternally grateful. And you provided a role model in the way you lived your life that is an inspiration to all of us.
Dave, I met you first. May your spirit ever-last. Thank you.