The death earlier this month of venture capitalist Todd Brooks—at age 46 from an apparent suicide—spawned an outpouring of online comments.
More than 60 comments, as of this publication’s deadline last Thursday, were posted in response to a recent column on peHUB (a sister publication of PE Week) that reported on Brooks’ death. BitGravity CEO Perry Wu wrote that Brooks was a “terrific friend to many of us,” but that most were unaware that he had “long suffered from depression.” Brooks was seen jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge and his death is believed to have been related to depression.
Some comments on peHUB shared stories about Brooks and about similar struggles with depression. Many of the remarks from friends, acquaintances and fellow investors shared memories of Brooks as being devoted to his wife, Marilee, and their three young children.
“He was a uniquely talented investor with a great passion for helping entrepreneurs make their dreams come true,” wrote Roger Lee, a general partner at Battery Ventures. “He is a role model to many of us who are now growing up in this industry and he will be sorely missed.”
Brooks began his career as a senior equity research analyst with Franklin Templeton Funds, where he covered the communications equipment sector. He then joined Jafco America Ventures (since renamed Globespan Venture Partners) to serve as a managing principal and backed such companies as Brocade Communications.
“Todd was a class act. He knew optical networking deeply and was influential in creating world class companies, such as Brocade, Monterey Networks and Qtera,” wrote Venky Ganesan, managing director of Globespan. “He was an upbeat, high-energy guy who had this amazing deep laugh that was very infectious. I have always aspired to be like Todd. He took his job seriously but never himself.”
After Jafco, Brooks joined The Mayfield Fund in 1998, before leaving in 2003. Two years later, he teamed up with fellow ex-Mayfield cohort Peter Levine to form a new VC shop tentatively called BLX Partners. They set out to raise a $200 million fund, and were well on their way until Levine pulled out to accept a CEO role with Xensource.
At the time, Brooks said that he remained focused on the fund formation process. As of last fall, Brooks was reported to have conducted some informal recruiting, and also to have discussed a possible partnership arrangement with Worldview Technology Partners co-founder James Wei.
“Todd was in the process of building a new firm and genuinely wanted to improve and reinvent venture,” wrote Jon Calaghan, co-founder of True Ventures and former managing director at Globespan. “Todd wanted to start a new firm to better serve LPs and entrepreneurs. Our industry was stronger with Todd pushing this agenda. As a friend, I won’t soon forget his hearty laughter.”
Brooks’ stints as a VC landed him on the Forbes “Midas List” of top investors, including a rank of No. 43 in 2002. And he rubbed shoulders with many notable industry people.
“He was always pragmatic, thoughtful, passionate and upbeat,” wrote Vint Cerf, chief evangelist at Google Inc. Cerf, one of the fathers of the Internet, says that he served on the same boards with Brooks. “His loss is a tragedy for his friends and his family. I will honor and remember him as a real leader in the Silicon Valley ecosystem.”
A memorial service for Brooks is scheduled for 10:00 am. on Wednesday, Feb 28th, at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in San Mateo, Calif. An online forum has been set up (at forthebrooksfamily.blogspot.com) for friends and colleagues to communicate with and to help his family.