Bob Lee: genius tech visionary killed in ‘horrible act of violence’

JThe outpouring of tributes, memories and anecdotes circulating on social media since tech pioneer Bob Lee was stabbed to death speaks of a genius engineer, serial innovator, a loving family man and, as his nickname Crazy Bob suggests, someone with a sense of humor.

Friends recounted how Lee dropped out of St Louis University, Missouri, and through his computer coding genius and determination to improve the lives of others, he continued to develop digital tools such as Google Android and the Cash app which are now used by tens of millions of people every day.

He had a “kaleidoscopic mind” that moved seamlessly between different circles of friends, wrote Joshua Goldbard, the founder and chief executive of MobileCoin, where Lee had worked as chief product officer since 2021.

“Pick a topic and Bob would be there with you to tell you all the ways he had ever thought of the idea,” Goldbard said. said on Twitter. “He had a way of seeing the world that was enchanting. He was a visionary in many ways.

Lee first rose to prominence in the tech world as a hacker and developer of open-source code as a teenager in St Louis, Missouri, in the 1990s, friends said.

“He participated in hackathons and was ready to play and share his knowledge,” noted one in a long tribute thread on Hacker News.

Bob Lee at a tech conference in his mid-twenties in 2006

(Bob Lee/Twitter)

After college, he worked as a technical architect for AT&T in St. Louis and became an expert in Java programming.

Lee moved to San Francisco in his early twenties in 2004 to work at Google where he led a team that developed Android, a smartphone operating system.

In 2010, Lee was chased by Square, which was renamed Block in 2021, where he helped launch the Cash app, which is used by tens of millions of people to make digital money transfers. He became the company’s first chief technology officer in 2011, according to a Linkedin profile.

In 2013, Lee made the first-ever payment on the Cash app when he sent $4 to Jack Dorsey, the founder of Twitter and chairman of Block, who shared a screenshot of the transaction on social media. .

Mr Dorsey described Lee’s death as “heartbreaking” in a social media post and wrote that he was instrumental in the growth and success of the business.

Lee also helped the World Health Organization develop its mobile app during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a profile on MobileCoin.

In dozens of posts on his Crazy Bob blog dating back to the mid-2000s, Lee displayed intense curiosity about the world around him and generously shared his discoveries.

He was constantly innovating; write a program to help Twitter users find like-minded followers, share tips on the latest iPhone camera, and discuss complex coding issues.

The nickname, Crazy Bob, referred to his water polo days at St Louis University, according to Mr Goldbard.

“Of course Bob knows Lars”

A common theme in the many online accolades is Lee’s penchant for bringing diverse groups of friends together.

On Hacker NewsLee’s friend, Harper Reed, recalled attending an invitation-only Metallica show in Iowa in the 2010s.

Cash App creator Bob Lee was a tech visionary who mentored many people in Silicon Valley, friends say


“I told Bob about it and he introduced me to Lars,” Mr. Reed wrote. Lars being Lars Ulrich, the drummer and songwriter of Metallica. “Mdr. Of course Bob knows Lars and will just introduce me.

After making his mark at Google and beginning his work revolutionizing peer-to-peer payments, he would still find time to mentor young talent, friends said.

“Everyone revered him, and yet he was just a normal guy (lol nothing about bob was normal),” Mr Reed said writing on Twitter.

Lee was a prolific social media user. On Twitter and Facebook, he has shown a strong social conscience on issues including police brutality, racial equity and Covid misinformation.

Lee has shared hundreds of photos from his life on a personal Flickr account. The snaps depict a world traveler who loved to party with friends, and a doting dad to daughters Dagny and Scout, who coded late into the night with a newborn baby in his lap. He and his wife Krista reportedly separated in 2019.

Bob Lee with his two daughters Dagna and Scout, photographed in 2016

(Bob Lee/Facebook)

In a Facebook post, his father Rick Lee wrote that he moved in with Bob when his mother Nannette died in 2019.

“Life has been an adventure with two single people living together, and I’m so glad we’ve been able to get so close over the past few years,” her father Rick Lee wrote in a Facebook post. “Bob would give you the shirt he had on his back. He never looked down on anyone and adhered to a strict non-judgmental philosophy.

Father and son moved to Miami last year, Rick wrote.

In a separate tribute, his brother Tim Oliver Lee wrote on Facebook: “I was so lucky to grow up with him, and I feel like I lost a part of myself.”

Lee was also an influential seed investor, pouring money into fledgling companies such as Clubhouse, SpaceX and female-focused social media and networking company Present.

Bob Lee, known to friends as ‘Crazy Bob’, was stabbed to death in downtown San Francisco early Tuesday morning

(Twitter / Bob Lee)

In 2021, he joined MobileCoin, a crypto payment company, as Product Director, where he helped launch Moby, a crypto and payment app.

After Sam Bankman-Fried’s cryptocurrency giant FTX collapsed in late 2022, Lee explain that he had lost his personal deposits in the company and was unlikely to recover them.

“That’s why we created Moby – to make holding your own money as easy as centralized solutions,” he wrote on Twitter.

“Horrible act of violence”

The 43-year-old’s fatal stabbing in downtown San Francisco early Tuesday morning sparked a sense of fury among the tech community against police and city leaders.

Tragically, friends say Lee left San Francisco due to rising crime rates and had just returned for a business trip when he was attacked on Tuesday morning.

Lee’s tragic final moments as he stumbled, normally injured, down Main St in downtown San Francisco at 2:30 a.m. Tuesday seeking help were captured on surveillance footage and viewed by journalists from The San Francisco Standard. The Independent did not corroborate the images.

Cameras reportedly captured Lee clutching one side of his body from which he was bleeding profusely and showed him approaching a white Toyota Camry parked on the side of the road with its lights flashing.

He lifts his shirt to show the driver the extent of his injuries, but rather than help, the motorist speeds up.

Lee could be heard pleading for help during a 911 call made at 2:34 a.m., according to The standard.

The site where Cash App founder Bob Lee was discovered with fatal stab wounds in San Francisco on Tuesday

(Associated Press)

Police and first responders discovered Lee unconscious on the sidewalk outside the Portside apartment building at 403 Main St minutes later, police said in a statement.

He was rushed to hospital where he died of his injuries, police said. No arrests were made.

In a tweet expressing his condolences over Lee’s death, Elon Musk wrote that many of his friends were “severely assaulted” in San Francisco.

Silicon Valley executives have blamed Lee’s death on Mayor London Breed, the city’s former progressive district attorney Chesa Boudin, and the Board of Supervisors.

“Congratulations, your policies have claimed another life,” writing Alan Alden, a Palo Alto financier who was friends with Lee.

Venture capitalist Matt Ocko, another friend, wrote on Twitter that “Chesa Boudin, and the felon-loving City Council that enabled her and an anarchic SF for years, have the literal blood of Bob on their hands”.

San Francisco Police Chief William Scott declined to comment on whether the stabbing was a random attack in his first public comments at a police board meeting Wednesday night, The San Francisco Standard reported.

Bob Lee pictured at the New York Stock Exchange in 2015 the day Square, now known as Block, went public

(Facebook / Bob Lee)

At the same meeting, San Francisco Police Commissioner Kevin Benedicto said it was “premature and unpleasant to try to weave this horrific act of violence into a preconceived narrative and use it to advance a political agenda.”

Chief Scott then released a statement that the investigation was “still in its early stages” and offered his condolences to “Mr. Lee’s family, friends and loved ones”.

“There is no place for violent crimes against anyone in our city,” Mr Scott said. “I want to assure everyone that our investigators are working tirelessly to make an arrest and bring justice to Mr. Lee and his loved ones, as we try to do with every homicide that occurs in our city.”

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