Rajeev Motwani, 47, who served as a mentor and unofficial adviser to Google co-founder Sergey Brin, was found dead in his home swimming pool on June 5.
Reports have suggested that the Stanford professor’s death was a drowning accident.
According to the Stanford University Website, Motwani’s areas of research interest included databases, data mining, information retrieval, Web researching, and privacy and security, “particularly in the context of databases and informational retrieval.”
The weekend saw an outpouring of grief from Silicon Valley giants, many of whom had relied on Motwani over the years as an adviser and counselor to students and tech entrepreneurs.
“Officially, Rajeev was not my advisor, and yet he played just as big a role in my research, education, and professional development,” Sergey Brin wrote in a June 5 blog posting. “No matter what was going on with my life or work, I could always stop by his office for an interesting conversation and a friendly smile.”
Brin also recounted how Motwani helped both him and Larry Page as Google developed from graduate-student project to corporate behemoth:
“Rajeev was there to support us and guide us through challenges, both technical and organizational,” Brin wrote. “Eventually, as Google emerged from Stanford, Rajeev remained a friend and advisor and he has with many people and startups since.”
Tributes poured in from across the Web.
“Success never came in the way of Rajeev’s quest for knowledge and innate desire to help others,” Om Malik, founder and senior writer of Gigaom, wrote on the site on June 5. “There wasn’t a startup he didn’t love. Like his chosen specialization of search, Rajeev was searching for the unknown.”
“For those of you who didn’t know Rajeev, you might get the impression that he was your typical Silicon Valley insider-loud, brash, full of bravado,” David Hornik of August Capital wrote on VentureBlog on June 5. “He was anything but. Rajeev was soft spoken and gentle. He was self-confident but didn’t feel the need to prove anything.”
Those startups also included PayPal. Motwani, who earned his degrees in computer science from IIT Kanpur and U.C. Berkeley, is survived by a wife and two daughters.