Bill Campbell, a former Ivy League football coach who became a management guru for Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and other Silicon Valley luminaries, has died.
He was 75.
His death on Monday was confirmed by Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, a venture capital firm that often called upon Campbell to help mould entrepreneurs as they tried to manage the rapid growth often triggered by their innovations.
Campbell died after a long battle with cancer, according to the firm, which was speaking on behalf of his family.
Although he wasn’t widely known outside Silicon Valley, Campbell played a pivotal role in shaping the direction of both Apple and Google, two of the world’s most powerful companies.
After working in marketing and sales at Apple during the 1980s, Campbell joined the company’s board in 1997, shortly after Jobs returned as the company’s CEO.
At the time, Apple was flirting with bankruptcy.
Campbell frequently served as Jobs’ sounding board during one of the most resounding corporate turnarounds in US history as Apple first redesigned its Mac computer line and then rolled out the iPod, iPhone and iPad to emerge as the world most valuable company.
Campbell ended his 17-year stint on Apple’s board in 2014.
While working with Apple, Campbell played a behind-the-scenes role in Google’s success, too.
Prompted by Kleiner Perkins, Campbell worked with former Google CEO Eric Schmidt and company co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin to help them work out their early differences and eventually forge one of the most successful partnerships in corporate America.
Alphabet, Google’s corporate parent, is now the world’s second most valuable company, ranking only behind Apple.