Sunday, December 28, 2008

In Memoriam: Todd Brooks

A recent visitor to this blog pointed out that the "In Memoriam: Todd Brooks" link was no longer active. I found the article—first published on February 20, 2007—in another location (PE Week Wire), though, and I have decided to post it here so that it has a permanent home. I apologize for not being able to locate its author, but his or her name isn't immediately apparent on the web page.

In Memoriam: Todd Brooks

As many of you have probably heard by now, venture capitalist Todd Brooks died last Thursday night from an apparent suicide attempt. He was 46 years old, and leaves behind wife Marilee and three young children.

An online forum has been set up for friends and colleagues to communicate with – and to help — the Brooks family during this difficult time. The site also is expected to provide memorial service information, once it has been finalized. People also have been leaving memories of Todd in this comment section on peHUB, and I’ll forward them on to the family soon (or at least most of them – more on that down below).

Brooks began his career as a senior equity research analyst with Franklin Templeton Funds, where he covered the communications equipment sector. He then moved on to JAFCO America Ventures (since renamed Globespan Venture Partners),to serve as a managing principal and back such companies as Brocade Communications.

Brooks later joined Mayfield Fund in 1998, before leaving in 2003 due to “differences in investment philosophy and over the direction of the firm.”

Two years later, Brooks teamed up with fellow ex-Mayfielder Peter Levine to form a new VC shop tentatively named BLX Partners. They set out to raise a $200 million fund, and were well on their way until Levine unexpectedly pulled out to accept a CEO role with open-source startup Xensource.

At the time, Brooks said: “I remain passionate and focused on the fund formation process and continue my discussions with several potential investment professionals who have been under consideration as team members throughout the fund-raising process.”

As of last August, he was reported to have been doing some informal recruiting, and also to have discussed some sort of partnership arrangement with Worldview co-founder James Wei. We had not reported on his activities since.

According to the Marin County Coroner’s Office, Brookswas witnessed jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge on Thursday night, but he was not discovered until Friday afternoon.

News of Brooks’ passing has been met with both shock and sadness by former friends and colleagues.BitGravity CEOPerry Wu wrotein a mass email on Saturday that Brooks was a “terrific friend to many of us,” but that most were unaware that he had “long suffered from depression.”

On a personal note: I met Todd only once in passing at an industry event, but had spoken to him about half a dozen time in the course of my work (part of which included covering his departure from Mayfield). He was a straight-talker who would take the time to help a layman like me understand the arcane intricacies of his latest optical networking investment. This really is a damn shame.

Let me also emphatically state that this is not an act of cowardice, as some peHUB readers have cruelly suggested in their comments. It was apparently the result of a mental illness, which is very real and has debilitating effects that most of us will thankfully never experience. The notion that someone with severe depression is capable of making "rational" decisions is to reject the science, and to publicly suggest otherwise at this time is to reject common decency.

Men have long been believed to suffer depression at lower rates than do women, but the reality is that they simply have had different symptoms. Sadly, this also is one cause for why men are four times more likely than are women to commit suicide. For more information on men and depression, please read the latest Newsweek cover story. And please keep the Brooks family in your prayers...

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Message From Marilee: Golden Gate Bridge Suicide Deterrent Project


Todd's suicide off the Golden Gate Bridge in Feb 2007 has opened my eyes about depression and the need for a suicide barrier on the Golden Gate Bridge. Although Todd's death was very complicated, the Golden Gate Bridge provided a perfect method of death for him, highly fatal and off a structure that was always in his life and had meaning to him.

Survivors of those who have committed suicide off the Golden Gate have actively worked towards a barrier for years with little success, but they have never quit. More people join our group every few weeks, and although the barrier will not bring Todd back it will end the addition of new people to our group! Right now the Golden Gate Bridge District is accepting comments on several barrier designs—this is the farthest this has ever gotten! The Opposition is still very strong to not touch the bridge, so I am requesting that you click on this link by August 25th to register a comment supporting the barrier.

In the " What's New" box on the right-hand side of the page, you will see "Comment" highlighted. Click on that. You can also read the EIR if you want.

Here are a few thoughts for your comment:

• My choice is Alternative 1B if you just want a quick answer

• A District Official that I spoke to stated that they do not have the money. I encouraged her to take the first step which is approve a barrier and not say no to everything due to lack of fun ds.

•The survivor group will always grow as long as there is no barrier. This effort will not go away.

•It is the right thing to do, please put politics aside- Those who have committed suicide were worth saving.

•The barrier is technically feasible and I feel will be found environmentally acceptable (EIR).

For more information, please read this New York Times article, "The Urge to End It All."

And the documentary The Bridge was produced and directed by Eric Steel:

And here is the trailer for the film:

Please spread the word to as many people as you can... in state and out!

We appreciate your help in this effort.

Thank you,

Marilee, Grant, Lindsay and Dana