Facebook's Sandberg emerges to speak at husband's memorial

Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook, and husband David Goldberg (left), chief operating officer of SurveyMonkey, attending the Allen and Company 31st Annual Media and Technology Conference. Sandberg re-emerged in public on Tuesday af
Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook, and husband David Goldberg (left), chief operating officer of SurveyMonkey, attending the Allen and Company 31st Annual Media and Technology Conference. Sandberg re-emerged in public on Tuesday after the accidental death of her husband last week. -- PHOTO: EPA

STANFORD, Calif. (Reuters) - Facebook Inc chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg re-emerged in public on Tuesday after the accidental death of her husband last week, telling a Silicon Valley memorial service about his effortless compassion and selflessness.

Many of the technology world's top executives filled a 1,700-seat auditorium at Stanford University to commemorate David Goldberg, chief executive of SurveyMonkey, who died at age 47 on Friday during a vacation in Mexico. He fell off a treadmill and hit his head.

The ceremony was a tribute to the low-key executive, whose marriage to Sandberg added to his fame from building a company valued at US$2 billion.

Speakers described Goldberg's self-deprecation, modesty and selflessness, and the event, closed to the press, included several nods to his passions: on their way out, guests were handed Minnesota Vikings baseball caps as a reminder of the Minneapolis-born Goldberg's lighthearted nature and love of sports, according to a person who attended the service and declined to be identified.

During the ceremony, Bono sang "One." Goldberg's brother, Robert Goldberg, who announced the death on Saturday morning on Facebook, and several friends spoke at the private service, the person said.

Many guests entered through side and back doors after driving into a cordoned-off area behind the hall. Some, such as Hewlett Packard chief executive Meg Whitman, walked up the steps and through the main entrance. Whitman declined to speak with reporters after the service.

Many began offering personal tributes to Goldberg on social media on Saturday, including Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg. Sandberg, however, remained silent until Tuesday morning, when she responded to a public note by President Barack Obama.

"David Goldberg embodied the definition of a real leader - someone who was always looking for ways to empower others," the president wrote in a Facebook message signed B.O., meaning he personally wrote it. "We're heartbroken by him leaving us far too soon - but we celebrate a remarkable legacy." (https://www.facebook.com/WhiteHouse).

Sandberg in turn took to Facebook, thanking Obama for his friendship. "Dave Goldberg admired you for your leadership, passion, and your deep love of sports," she wrote.

She also changed her Facebook cover photo on Tuesday morning to a picture of her dancing with Goldberg at their wedding in 2004.

Goldberg built SurveyMonkey into a poll-taking juggernaut after joining the company in 2009. He previously worked for venture firm Benchmark, after founding Launch Media and selling it to Yahoo Inc in 2001.