A Legend Lost
Those who are familiar with Link Ventures and Cogo Labs know that we strive to foster a people-focused culture. Yes, we depend on our data assets, but their potential can only be fully realized through the minds and hands of inspired — and inspiring — entrepreneurs. Our focus on teams sparks a camaraderie that makes many team members as tight as some families.
We find ourselves reeling from the loss of one of our own. Seth Birnbaum, CEO and co-founder of EverQuote, passed away unexpectedly on Saturday.
From his company’s statement: “Seth was a genuine, dynamic leader whose remarkable passion, vision and tenacity attracted the world-class team we have in place today, which serves as the foundation for EverQuote’s success. We will be forever grateful for his entrepreneurial spirit and the welcoming and caring environment he cultivated.”
Seth and our Managing Partner, Dave Blundin, had shared roots at MIT. Early on, Dave saw in Seth an immense vision, intensity, and ability to pursue and hire talented people. Seth later came on board at Cogo Labs as a successful entrepreneur with a fast-growing startup called AdHarmonics. That company became EverQuote, grew into a juggernaut and became our first incubated company to go public.
Seth taught us a lot. He personified the mentoring perspective. It requires little effort to offer to mentor someone; Seth worked out of a glass-walled conference room to make it easier for team members to locate him if they needed help. He demonstrated the way to build community one person (one case of realized potential) at a time. His passion for people was part of what made him a great CEO. He was an inspiring, thoughtful, intellectually curious leader with a generosity of spirit that made him unforgettable.
Along those lines, some quotes from EverQuote’s LinkedIn post about Seth;
“Seth so deeply touched so many lives, and most certainly my own. He was brilliant, charismatic, generous, and loyal. He was simultaneously both the hardest working person and most fun loving person I know.”
— Shimrit Paley Markette/People Operations, EverQuote
“I will so miss my friend. Amazing entrepreneur, better person.”
— Jim Sanger/Managing Partner, Second Alpha Partners
“Seth was a living legend, and he knew it. But, he never selfishly squandered such rare and instinctual self-regard in service of his ego. Instead, Seth shared his grace with those around him by dint of friendship and, in doing so, bestowed a singularly powerful imprimatur which compelled us, through sheer tyranny of his prodigious will, to see how special *we* were, too.”
— Kyle Moffit/CEO, STEM Cultivation
The term “goat” is used a lot at EverQuote — referring to a goat’s tenacity, heart and drive — but Seth was the G.O.A.T. (He even wore goat slippers around the office.) He won accolades for EverQuote and for himself right up until last week, when he was honored as one of the Top 25 InsurTech Executives of 2020 by the Financial Technology Report. He believed that if you loved what you were doing and worked hard, success would follow. And that was certainly the example he set, for his colleagues and for his cherished family. He was a joyful and loving father. His Hebrew name was Simcha, which means joy, and that made so much sense. He radiated joy; his daily interactions were infused with it.
He also radiated love. Seth sent out a note to all EverQuote employees before the Thanksgiving holiday, thanking his colleagues profusely for delivering excellence during such a challenging year. He ended his note with “Onward, Upward, and EVER yours” — we think this is the perfect crystallization of Seth as friend, entrepreneur and human being.
It will take us a moment to regain our collective balance, but just as soon as we do…