My friend Mike Homer died today at his Silicon Valley home at age 50 after a more than two-year battle with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a rare, devastating and incurable neurological disorder. Long-time public radio colleagues may remember that the same disease claimed Pat Joy, former manager of Oregon Public Broadcasting's radio unit, several years back.
I first met Mike when a small group of us (I recall it being technology journalist Steve Gillmor, Stephen Hill of Hearts of Space, Tim Olson from KQED) met with Mike early in 2005, We were part of a group working on a CDN for public broadcasting, a need Mike had also forseen and, not only that, was already building one. That began a nearly two-year partnership in which we worked with Mike's team on both design and business plan aspects of what Mike called Open Media Network. Although we weren't successful in Mike's ultimate dream of giving this to a national public broadcasting organization, I'm convinced that we will eventually (and, I hope not too late) come to see Mike's vision as important part of public media's future.
Mike was a former executive at Apple, Netscape and AOL, was founder of Kontiki, and more recently an angel investor in a number of ventures and philanthropist.
Kara Swisher has a very nice Farewell to Mike Homer in her BoomTown blog today. I know that those of us who worked almost daily with Mike for that extended period all salute Mike's memory and his vision.
Update 2 February 2009:
Also see Leslie Katz's Silicon Valley fixture Mike Homer dies at 50 in CNet News.
Update 3 February 2009:
Tim Mullaney has a substantial piece, Mike Homer, Internet Innovator and Microsoft Foe, Dies at 50, at Bloomberg.com.
And Mike McCue has a nice remembrance, Thanks for the Ride, Mike, in D|All Things Digital that's pretty close to my own.
Update 4 February 2009:
This will be the last update on Mike, an obituary written by his friend and fellow angel investor, Ron Conway:
Michael (Mike) J. Homer: February 24, 1958 –February 1,
Mike Homer, high-technology executive, passed away on February 1, 2009 at his home in Atherton. He suffered from the rare neurodegenerative disorder Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, known as CJD. Mike, 50, is survived by his wife of ten years Kristina and their three children, James, Jack and Lucy, as well as his mother Irene and sister Sue. In addition to family, he leaves a legion of friends, colleagues and business associates, including his best friend, Bill Campbell. Everyone who knew Mike will miss his extraordinary intellect, tenacity, fierce loyalty and of course, his hearty sense of humor.
Mike was born and raised in San Francisco, attended St. Ignatius College Prep, and treasured the many lifelong friendships developed during those years. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of California at Berkeley. A Silicon Valley presence for more than twenty years, Mike launched his career at Apple, excelling as both a technical innovator and savvy marketer. He held executive positions at GO and EO, before making an indelible mark on the success of Internet pioneer Netscape. Mike was an active board member at Opsware and Palm, and an investor and advisor to Tellme Networks, Tivo and Google. He started Kontiki and Open Media Network and served on the board of Cinequest. His appreciation for film led to the role of executive producer for an award-winning documentary, “Speed and Angels.”
All who have enjoyed the privilege of knowing Mike would agree that his love of family defined his success even more than his professional accomplishments. Mike enjoyed every opportunity to share his free time with family and close friends, gathering for backyard BBQs or Tahoe getaways that always included plenty of boat rides. An avid baseball fan, Mike could often be found cheering for the San Francisco Giants at the stadium or at The Old Pro in Palo Alto surrounded by a table filled with friends. He inherited his love of baseball from his father Jim, passed it onto his own children, and jumped at the chance to coach both of his son’s little league teams.
Often sought after for his sage advice, Mike was always generous with his time and friendship. Mentoring was a way of life for him and he took great pleasure in sharing his expertise with others. His larger than life personality and genuine warmth will be profoundly missed by all whose lives he touched, and his legacy reflected in part by their accomplishments.
Mike was also a philanthropist. He and Kristina started The Homer Family Foundation to fund education and programs for the underprivileged. He was a major donor to the Ronald McDonald House at Stanford, The Haas Center for Responsible Business at Berkeley, The Computer History Museum and The California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences at UCSF. This past fall, Sacred Heart High School in Atherton unveiled the Michael J. Homer Science and Student Life Center.
A rosary will be recited at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, February 4 at the Church of the Nativity, 210 Oak Grove Avenue in Menlo Park. On Thursday, February 5 at 10:30 a.m., a service will be held to honor Mike’s extraordinary life at Saint Raymond Catholic Church, 1100 Santa Cruz Avenue in Menlo Park. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Creuzfeldt-Jakob Disease Foundation at www.cjdfoundation.org <http://www.cjdfoundation.org/> .