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.