A Short Tribute to George Gombas

George Gombas passed away yesterday.  While you probably don’t know George, he was an entrepreneur with a big mind and an incredibly big heart.

I first met George when he and his co-founder Steve Buck were pitching me – in 2001 – on the idea of a company they had created called Npulse.  George, Steve, and a band of a few others had some really big ideas around monitoring, measuring, and managing application activity on the web.  I was interested and immediately liked George and Steve, but suggested they spend some time refining the idea with Ben Wen who was working for me at the time.

A few months later – in January of 2002 – I decided to invest in Npulse.  The first year was an exciting one, as the company grew from a few people to 20 and George, Steve, and the gang worked hard on getting a product out.  2002 was a particularly bleak year for me as I was mired in the midst of the dotcom meltdown (or rather, buried under the rubble).  Npulse and my interactions with George and Steve were a bright spot during this time.

George – who had been battling cancer for a number of years before I met him – was always fully present, no matter what he did.  He was always a pleasure to be around and brought infectious energy to every project.  As Npulse grew, we added a new CEO, continued to try to evolve Npulse from an early stage pre-product company to a real business.  George eventually left the company and took some time off to travel and get married. 

Npulse – which turned into Alignment – then did a financing / merger and became Xaffire, after which point it struggled to find relevance in the market.  The technology that George and Steve originally envisioned came to life, but as with many software product companies in very competitive markets, Npulse’s products were more “features” than products.  At the end of last year, Quest Software acquired Xaffire, providing a nice long term home for the technology that Npulse / Alignment / Xaffire had created.

I haven’t been in touch with George much over the past two years.  We’d email occasionally – he was always happy and upbeat.  A few weeks ago, we had a Xaffire party to celebrate their acquisition by Quest.  At dinner, Steve told me that George wasn’t doing very well.  I thought about calling him, but then got caught up in the normal flow of life and didn’t.

Steve sent a note out that George passed away yesterday.  I had a few sad moments and then though kind and happy thoughts about George and the vigor with which he lived his life.  George – you were a great person – I will miss you.

  • Jerry Colonna

    My heart goes out to you and George

  • Karyn German

    I had the pleasure of getting to know George when we both worked at the Mobius incubator several years ago…he was a dear, dear man who always bruoght a smile to the faces of those around him. I am happy to know that I played a very small part in the legacy of his work during my stint at Xaffire.


  • David Sieh

    George and I crossed paths many times over the past 20+ years be it in class at CU in the early 80’s, running on the trails at Chautauqua, shopping at the Farmer’s Market, or over the past few years at events sponsored by our respective churches.

    It was always a pleasure to run in to him because he was always optimistic and joyful.

    Whenever we crossed paths, George would recall a somewhat serendipitous encounter we had in the early 80’s.

    My wife and I were traveling the Yucatan peninsula. Occasionally we would spend a day or two in Cozumel. On one of these excursions, we were hanging out on the plaza, and we saw a young man looking somewhat concerned. I thought he looked familiar from a class I had taken at CU a few years before.

    We struck up a conversation with him and discovered that he did live in Boulder, and he had been traveling and climbing throughout parts of Mexico and Central America. He had just recently had a string of unfortunate incidents and had lost his wallet (i.e. identification and money) in the process. Hearing his dilemma, we put him up in our room (which we also shared with a family of cockroaches), bought some food for him, and gave him some cash to help him get back to the States.

    Since that time, whenever George and I crossed paths, he would start our conversations by recalling that encounter and graciously thank my wife and I for the help we gave him.

    He always asked how he could pay us back. And, I let him know that his optimism and joy, that he shared with us and others, were more than enough.

    Thanks for sharing that great attitude with so many people George!

  • When I first read the beginning of your post I thought yes, you’re right I don’t know this guy George, but then you mentioned Steve Buck and suddenly the long-idle synapses fired. Of course I remember George and Steve. That was way back in the early 1990’s, the “dark” ages before the Web was more than just a goofy research project.

    I can’t recall how I originally met Steve, but he referred a client to me (Infonow), which payed my bills for a while. And then somehow I met George through Steve or through a mutual acquaintance, I can’t remember which, although I do recall that the two of them were somehow connected.

    I had a project I wanted to do and was talking to George about it, but I think he got some other work, and that was the end of that. This was around 1992 or so.

    All of this shows how Boulder can be both a small world and a too-big world all at the same time.

    — Jack Krupansky

  • George’s obituary has been published.

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