Carl Rahn Griffith

AVC regular David Semeria reached out to me and my friend Jerry yesterday asking if we had heard the news about Carl. We had not. He told us that he had seen the news on Facebook that Carl had passed away. We all wondered if it was true so David verified it with a co-worker of Carl’s.

Anyone who has been hanging around here at AVC for long enough knew Carl. As David said, “He was a lovely chap, much too gentle for this world.”

Carl and I originally bonded over our fondness for the Arctic Monkeys who were from his hometown of Sheffield England. In the summer of 2008, when our family was in the UK, I traveled up to Sheffield and attended a Sheffield Wednesday match with Carl and his lovely wife Helen. They also treated me to a nice lunch at their local pub. It was the kind of friendship one could only have made on the Internet and maintained over the Internet.

Carl was a kind and decent man who loved to write. It was our writing here at AVC that brought us together and kept us connected. I will miss him and I am sure that others here at AVC will too.

My condolences to Helen and his family. He always signed his emails to me “Carl and Helen.” That was the kind of guy he was.

#life lessons

Comments (Archived):

  1. Gary Chou

    Oh no. I always enjoyed our Twitter convos.

  2. awaldstein

    I am truly saddened by this.Carl and I have emailed a lot, skyped a bit over the years. Two guys who liked to write each with our cats on our desks while we talked.A good man with a big heart. I’ll carry this around today with a measured dose of heaviness and unrest.

  3. Twain Twain

    So sad to hear this news.We lost a friend in 2011 whom we’d never met in real-life but got to know and appreciate on the Internet. He was a Professor of Music at San Diego State, bon vivant and patient as a saint to us bunch of rowdy young ‘uns.That’s the power of the Web: people we didn’t know before (and may not otherwise have met because of geographical distance) share of themselves and we make journeys with them, through the words and pictures they share online.

    1. fredwilson

      Well said

  4. LIAD

    Terribly sad. He was such a good guy. He was tweeting on Monday.”All that matters is my window on this world. If I fix that, and you fix yours, maybe, just maybe, others will follow, and we will all begin to see things more clearly and take better-care to nurture what we have” – Carl Rahn GriffithBroken Windows. 16th February 2016…

    1. fredwilson

      Thanks Liad. That is wonderful

    2. David Semeria

      Carl at his best.

      1. Fred Harvey

        tried to respond

    3. Jim Peterson

      Fantastic blog post from Carl.

      1. ShanaC


      2. BillMcNeely

        Do we know how he passed?

        1. David Semeria

          He died in his sleep.

          1. BillMcNeely


          2. Emil Sotirov

            Oh thanks!… Hope that’s the truth.

          3. Mario Cantin

            That has happened to one of my uncles too. Breathing went awry and then stopped.

          4. Fred Harvey

            Tried to contact u. via email. U guys have it all soooo wrong

          5. David Semeria

            He died in sleep is good enough for me. Please think twice before posting any details, tks.

  5. RichardF

    RIP Carl. A very intelligent, well read and articulate gentleman. Very sad news indeed.

  6. WA

    Deep and heartfelt sympathies to Carl’s wife and family and the community here as well. “We all shine on…like the moon and the stars and the sun…we all shine on…come on and on and on…” John Lennon

  7. takingpitches

    This news makes me very sad. Condolences to his wife and family.Here is another Carl quote from three days ago.”Don’t believe the hype. The essence of cool – or not, as the case may be – hinges on how laboured and affected the desire to be cool is; whether in software, business, design, music, film, art, life: keep it simple, pure/honest, with your own certificate of provenance – and you/it will always be cool…”

  8. William Mougayar

    Saddened. Him and I exchanged emails over our common love for artisan bread making. RIP, Carl.

  9. Jason

    I worked with Carl for the last 2 year and on Sunday night I hugged hIm as I always did as I left work. Never thought that would be the last time I’d see him. Im blessed to have known such a warm and wonderful man. God bless my friend Carl.

    1. David Semeria

      Lovely words, Jason.

    2. Mark Essel

      Thanks for sharing that Jason

    3. Donna Brewington White

      Not everyone hugs a coworker at the end of a shift. Says a lot about both of you. Thank you for sharing this — good to hear from someone who worked with him. Condolences for your loss of a coworker and friend.

  10. markslater

    wow this is sad. I remember all those years ago when Carl appeared here. I’ve been a lurker more than contributor now for a few years here – but i always enjoyed taking the time to keep up with his ramblings and discourse.RIP Carl.

  11. kirklove

    Very, very sad to hear :(Time is so precious. A lesson I learned early in life. I’m grateful for each day and moment with the folks I love.Condolences to his family and Helen.

    1. panterosa,

      I especially liked his Peggs of South of England. I looked at his board again yesterday and today. A warmth with no pretense.

  12. laurie kalmanson

    “In the time of your life, live—so that in that wondrous time you shall not add to the misery and sorrow of the world, but shall smile to the infinite delight and mystery of it.” — William Saroyan.The setting — a saloon near the waterfront — and the characters who come and go, bear many resemblances to this place.

  13. Imran Ali

    That’s so sad to hear.Back in 2007, I cofounded Ensembli with Carl and helped move his idea forward with venture investment and building a team.He was a lovely guy, great company and a lived a storied life of adventures.

  14. JimHirshfield

    So sad. His voice will be missed. These, on his FB from just a few days ago…

  15. Guy Lepage

    Very sad and shocking news. Although I did not have many exchanges with Carl definitely saddened by this news.

  16. Fernando Gutierrez

    Lately I don’t hang around here as much as I used to, but when I dive into the comments with little time, his name is one of those I always search and read. We only had a few conversations, but he was always nice and even from the distance I could appreciate he was a great guy. My condolences to his family. RIP

  17. JamesHRH

    I don’t think I have known someone I liked more, given how little we shared philosophically.. Condolences to Helen.

  18. Mario Cantin

    Very sad news and touching story.Another one of your readers, Joe Cardillo, once pointed out to me that relationships he had made on the internet felt uncannily natural once meeting in real life.I’ve experienced that too when I met Brad Feld, for example, and also William.This seems to be another point in case.Bless his soul…

  19. Emil Sotirov

    Let’s also not forget how Carl’s years of unfortunate unemployment (or employment in low qualified service jobs) made him depressed and bitter. I wonder what role that may have played in his passing.Carl was unusually (and somewhat rebelliously) vocal about his inability to find meaningful employment (or any other opportunity). I’m sure many people here would have preferred if he had just kept his problems to himself… because we are a tough bunch here, aren’t we.Related to this… I’m thinking about Albert’s work on how we can change the system in a way that allows people to have meaningful lives without the total dependence on jobs as single source of dignity (and livelihood).Here are some links to Carl’s online presence:

    1. Mario Cantin

      Thanks for the links, I’ve only been here less that 18 months and didn’t get to know him during that time, so this helps paint a picture.

    2. fredwilson

      i never felt that he should keep his problems to himself. this is a community first and foremost and people can talk about what they want around here

      1. Emil Sotirov

        Fred… you are our “teacher” on community… and I surely did not mean you. I meant all of us… at times feeling uncomfortable about our inability to do something about helping Carl – in real life. And how this is part of our culture – not to talk about our personal problems.

      2. Emil Sotirov

        I did not express well what I meant. I have always being critical about that part of our culture that says “keep your problems to yourself”… and “just toughen up”, etc.

        1. fredwilson

          I get what you are saying and I agree. I just want to be clear that it does not have to be sunny around here all the time

          1. panterosa,

            The struggle is real. We must honor that. The invitation is an important one Fred, it invites vulnerability, fear, doubt, all that stuff Jerry helps people with behind closed doors. And as we know it often takes real balls to air the uncertain.I enjoyed Brad Feld’s recent piece on insecurity.

    3. Kirsten Lambertsen

      It’s my hope that sharing his challenges with all of us helped him. I know many of us, including me, sent him messages of encouragement and solidarity and shared similar experiences.It takes courage to share disappointments so publicly, and I think Carl did it with style. He did us all a great service with his openness and honesty.

      1. RichardF

        If I could “super like” this comment I would, well said Kirsten

        1. Kirsten Lambertsen

          Thanks, Richard.

      2. Matt Zagaja

        Agreed. Finding employment and an identity is tough. It was not easy when I did it and people here were awesome in providing support even when they couldn’t do much else, and in the end that is all we can ask. That being said if anyone is looking for entry level Rails developers in the Boston area (though some might be willing to move, and remote is always good) please feel free to e-mail or DM me on twitter as I have a bunch of people in my Code for Boston meet up group looking for jobs. For better or worse many of the job postings I run across want “experienced” developers.

      3. Donna Brewington White

        Oh Kirsten. Thank you.As you would say: This!

    4. Richard

      There are many life skills that are not taught in our educational system. Who would possibly design a curriculum without teaching these coping skills. Education should be disrupted for this reason alone.

    5. LE

      I’m sure many people here would have preferred if he had just kept his problems to himself… because we are a tough bunch here, aren’t we.Well I for one never mind people sharing their personal feelings (positive or negative) and/or personal experiences and troubles. I wish more people did that actually.I didn’t know anything about Carl personally other than what I read here and his comments, but was really shocked to read this today.

  20. panterosa,

    Sad news. I was fond of Carl’s forthright take on things, especially his post on working a job in the pub and the immediacy of impact. Perhaps he reminded me offer of my English family’s view on just get on with it.

  21. Salt Shaker

    His posts here always seemed genuine and from the heart, without pretense or posturing. I didn’t know the man but I feel at some level I did based on his writings. Warm, sensitive and introspective come to mind. Very thoughtful and wasn’t afraid to reveal himself. Saddened to hear.

    1. David Semeria

      That’s bang on the money.

  22. Rohan

    Very sad to hear. Thank you for sharing, Fred. 🙁

  23. Kirsten Lambertsen

    Carl and I connected over our enthusiasm for punk rock. I never met him IRL, but his depth and soul communicated strongly in his writing and communications. My thoughts are with his family. I hope you’re sitting in on a great jam session, wherever you are, Carl.

  24. JLM

    .Godspeed, Carl.Life is fragile and you never know what it holds for any of us.We all need to live it with that reality.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    1. Lawrence Brass

      I knew about him here, just a few months ago, and have been catching up on Medium since then. Enjoyed his posts and the human touch. He brought to my attention the fact that when things go wrong, our cult for success based culture is not very forgiving. He had a struggle.I also recall your encouraging words to him in reply to his post.A toast, for the successful entrepreneur, for the bartender, for the man, for Carl.And my condolences to his loved ones.

      1. JLM

        .Life’s a bitch and then you die. A harsh reality.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredcar.con

  25. Donna Brewington White

    Saddened. I will miss his window to the world. A rare, unique and precious soul. You can probably say that of many people. But especially of Carl. I feel privileged to have known him…albeit online. But Carl is someone you could get to know online. Now grateful that he posted so frequently to Instagram for awhile. Went back through his posts this morning. Is evident that he deeply loved Helen.

  26. Cam MacRae

    Gutted. Travel well, old bean.

    1. Anne Libby

      That was exactly the word that came to my mind, perhaps because it’s a word I saw Carl use?

      1. Cam MacRae

        You may be right.

  27. Tracey Jackson

    Like many of you I too met Carl here on this site. Like many of you we became cyber friends, Facebook friends and followed each other on Twitter. I loved his honesty, his dignity in the face of some hard times and his humor. He wrote a wonderful blog for a website I run called Gratitude and Trust. He held on to those two things and identified with them.. The blog is called GAME OVER. Prophetic? I don’t think so. I don’t show up here like I used to, but I have made some lovely connections. Carl being a truly special one. I will miss him…I share the blog the did for us here.RIP Carl, you inspired and befriended many. You will be missed.GAME OVER -By Carl Rahn Griffithhttp://www.gratitudeandtrus…

    1. David Semeria

      I just read Carl’s post from your link.I would recommend everyone read it.It’s beautifully written and very relevant to the impact of technology on our lives.The last sentence, though, is pretty chilling.

      1. Tracey Jackson

        Thank you David. I agree with you. There is a lot of wisdom in that blog. Even more so with his sudden passing.

    2. Donna Brewington White

      I remember reading this, tweeting it. Was worth re-reading.Tracey, you and I never really interacted much at AVC but I always read your comments with interest. Good to “see” you.

      1. Tracey Jackson

        Thank you Donna. I loved being on this site with regularity – so many bright engaged people and I did make several friends. I still read many of Fred’s posts, but stopped commenting much. This might inspire me. Often the conversation is about things I don’t know a lot about. So I read and learn.

    3. Tracey Jackson

      I just read it again. I forgot that last bit. You don’t always pay attention to every sentence. I’m just so happy I ran it. When he first sent it to it was quite long. I said I loved it but he had to cut 600 words. He cut 300, but he wrote so well and I thought it’s so important it needs to go up and people need to hear this. Solong it is. I will send it out again wide tomorrow. So sad.

    4. Anne Libby

      Thank you for posting this, Tracey. I missed it the first time around.

  28. pointsnfigures

    Very sorry to read this. I will plonge in his honor today.

  29. Anne Libby

    Oh, my. My heart goes out to Helen and the rest of Carl’s family, friends and community.

  30. Gerard Gartside

    I am in a state of complete and utter shock. I’ve known Carl and been a friend for 25 years, back when we both lived in Long Marston and drank in the Queens Head. We stayed friends even though we both moved away and haven’t seen each other for a long time thanks ironically in great part to the Facebook that he railed against so often.If anyone knows what happened please let me know, I’m not going to bother H right now, I just can’t imagine what she is feeling and she doesn’t need unnecessary pestering I’m sure.RIP Carlos old friend, you are reunited with your beloved Mum at last.

    1. ShanaC

      It sounds sudden

  31. Tom Labus

    I am so sorry to hear this sad news.RIP Carl

  32. Donna Brewington White

    Fred, thank you for honoring Carl in this way and giving us this common place to express our thoughts and feelings. Days like this I am reminded that we are a community.Every day, I interact in some way with someone from this community. Although not as often IRL as I would like. Not nearly enough.#grouphug

  33. David Semeria

    Carl’s passing is having a strange effect on me.When Bowie died, even though I’ve been listening to his music since almost the beginning, I was sad for a while but got over it pretty quickly. Bowie had a great innings.But Carl’s passing is gnawing at me.I didn’t know him that well, but I can’t help feeling the last few years of his life were wasted.Wasted in the sense that there was no place for him in this world.Such an honest, eloquent voice — with so much to offer.I’m beginning to feel Carl could epitomize the dark side of the Valley’s Shiny Future.And I feel very guilty about not reaching out more to him.All the best entrepreneurs admit luck played a role in their success.Which begs the question: what happens if you’re talented, work hard, but are unlucky?There but for the grace of God….

    1. JimHirshfield

      Well said. I feel the same and keep coming back here to try and figure out what happened. How? Why?

    2. Dave Pinsen

      Is that his daughter in his Twitter profile pic? He had a wife and at least one child who loved him — how could any of his life have been wasted?I get what you’re saying about luck and success, but perspective counts for a lot too. Invidious comparisons to some of the wealthy entrepreneurs who comment here may have made him feel bad, but I can’t help thinking of my father at Carl’s mention of being a maître d’.When my father got laid off from his white collar job during the early-’80s recession, he worked as a maître d’ at night for our neighbors’ Irish pub while he searched for a new job during the day. My mother worked with him as a waitress. She told me later that he loved being a maître d’. Money isn’t everything.

      1. Anne Libby

        Thank you for this, Dave. +1000The real waste is when a culture views people as lacking value, or treats them as though they do.I don’t know a lot of details of Carl’s career challenges.I do know that many people in my (elite) b-school class — most of us now past mid-career — have the kind of difficulties finding work that Carl describes. I mean, described.He had plans to write a book this year! Beyond the obvious, another very real waste: we lost his unique and powerful voice on one reality of “the future of work.”

      2. David Semeria

        I hope I didn’t imply that working in hotels or restaurants is in some way demeaning — because that’s the opposite of what I believe. I was making a different point.For example, I’m sure Richard Feynman would have made a fantastic barman, and would have enjoyed it too. But that wasn’t his vocation.Over time, the same underlying feeling of underachievement would have gnawed at him too.

        1. Dave Pinsen

          Carl wasn’t Feynman. Most of us aren’t. What we achieve is what we achieve; “underachievement” is only relative to some hoped for goal, not necessarily an obtainable one.

    3. Donna Brewington White

      I understand what you mean. I kept hoping he would have a lucky break and that those hard days would become part of the story he would tell.Carl is like so many artists whose suffering is part of what helps create the art. It is part of the price paid. A hard price. So many of us have been touched and moved by what was created out of Carl’s pain and his willingness to face it. Yes we want him to have enjoyed the process more and the fruit of it. We want a happy ending. It is a blessing to us that he did not suffer in silence because of the gems produced in the midst of those days.I was concerned for him, as were others here. At times I watched for signs or clues that he was alright. Admittedly, not as much lately. Often what I observed was someone who was very aware of what was going on around him. He posted photos of the countryside, scenes from life that he captured and shared. Tidbits from literature, comics, poetry, philosophy. Such a range of interests and observations mixed in with wry wit, wonder, empathy, irony, critique, appreciation. He embraced the mundane and he didn’t seem to miss much.He used to post on Instagram with really long comments. There were a lot of responses. People liked him. In some ways his life seemed really rich from a distance. I wonder if he knew? I wonder if he would have been surprised at the outpouring today? So many wonderful people don’t even know how wonderful they are. But I do remember him receiving affirmation here at AVC.

      1. Mark Essel

        Got a little misty eyed reading that.

    4. Mark Essel

      Carl mentioned finding meaning in his Bar work a few times, but I hear ya. I didn’t know Carl beyond his words and voice in his comments/blog. He generously offered Michelle and I a number of suggestions when we visited London in 2011.Bowie was a stranger, Carl was our Carl. We didn’t expect to lose him anytime soon.

    5. Mario Cantin

      Life isn’t always fair, it would seem.

  34. Pete Griffiths

    Sad. Very nice guy.

  35. ShanaC

    Baruch Dayan Emmet.he was always so nice to me, encouraging.

  36. vruz

    This is sad news. We weren’t friends but he was someone whose powers of observation mattered.Rest in peace, Carl.

  37. Chimpwithcans

    I didn’t know Carl, but I wish his family well, and someone needs to show his family all the comments on this blog post – clearly he made a good impression.

    1. Henry Yates

      I’m based in the UK – i have got together with Liad and David Semeria to do something on behalf of the avc community. We’ve copied the comments on to a PDF and laminated it. Sending with flowers to the Three Acres where he worked. They said they would ensure the family receive them.

      1. Anne Libby

        Thank you!

  38. Bruce Warila

    As other have eloquently stated, I have been visiting AVC for years; i have always noted the comments by Carl; and I was saddened when I read this post yesterday. After reading all the comments here, I was struck by the depth of the friendships (OLO and IRL) that many of you have. I hope to meet some of you in person someday.

  39. Douglas Crets

    Yes, a good guy.

  40. Mark Essel

    Same here.