SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Bob Lee, a technology executive who created Cash App and was currently MobileCoin’s chief product officer, was fatally stabbed in downtown San Francisco early Tuesday morning, according to the cryptocurrency platform and police.
The San Francisco Police Department said in a statement that officers responded to a report of a stabbing near the city’s Embarcadero boardwalk at 2:35 a.m. Tuesday. They found Robert Lee, 43, apparently with stab wounds.
“Officers rendered assistance and called medics to the scene,” but Lee died at a hospital, police said.
“This investigation is still in the early stages. Because of this, we will not comment on the evidence, nor will we speculate on the circumstances surrounding this horrific crime,” Police Chief Bill Scott said in the statement.
MobileCoin confirmed Lee’s death on Wednesday in response to an email from The Associated Press.
“Our dear friend and colleague, Bob Lee, passed away yesterday at the age of 43, survived by a loving family and a collection of close friends and associates,” MobileCoin CEO Josh Goldbard said in a statement.
Lee was fatally stabbed in San Francisco’s densely populated Rincon Hill neighborhood, near the Google office and Oracle Park, home of the San Francisco Giants. The neighborhood is a mix of modern office and condominium buildings.
His death further ignited the debate over public safety in San Francisco and its dying downtown, which has yet to recover from the pandemic. Twitter owner Elon Musk took to the social media site to post that “violent crime in San Francisco is horrific and even if attackers are caught they are often released immediately” and tagged the city’s district attorney .
San Francisco suffers more from property crime than from violent crimes such as murder, rape, robbery, and assault.
In a statement, San Francisco Mayor London Breed called the slaying “a horrific tragedy” and said the city is prioritizing public safety.
“I am confident that when the police make an arrest in cases like this, our district attorney will do whatever it takes to hold people accountable for their actions,” he said.
Goldbard said that Lee was “made for the new world”.
“From major contributions to Android at Google, to being Square’s first CTO, then creating Cash App, and working with us here on Mobilecoin, Bob surely made an impact that will last well beyond his short time on earth,” Goldbard said.
Lee came to MobileCoin as an early-stage investor and advisor, later becoming a product manager and helping launch the Moby app, Goldbard said. Lee was the CTO of digital payments company Square in 2013 when he launched a money transfer app now known as Cash App.
Among the tech leaders who shared their devastation over Lee’s death was venture capitalist Wesley Chan, co-founder of FPV Ventures. Chan said he became friends with Lee more than a decade ago when they both worked at Google, at a time when software engineers like Lee were helping build the Android smartphone operating system ahead of its launch in 2008.
“He was an incredibly iconic founder in the world of technology,” Chan said by phone Wednesday. “He wrote a lot of Android when he was at Google. He became the CTO of Square and helped create Cash App. His resume says something like a Fortune cover story.”
But Chan said Lee was also generous in helping train and advocate for other engineers and tech entrepreneurs who would call him for advice. And he was modest about his key role in developing successful products, like the widely used Cash App.
“With everything Bob worked on, it was always a pleasant surprise,” Chan said. “That’s one of the things I loved about him. He was always humble about it, he was like, ‘Oh, I don’t know if it’s going to work or not, but we’ll try.’
Prominent venture capitalist Ron Conway, founder of San Francisco-based investment firm SV Angel, tweeted Wednesday that Lee’s loss was an immense tragedy.
“My condolences to Bob’s family and to the entire tech community,” Conway said. Fondly remembering when Bob gave an inspiring talk at our CEO Summit. We have lost a great innovator, intelligence and spirit. Praying that a suspect is apprehended quickly.”
The police statement did not provide any details about the circumstances of the stabbing.
“This is an open and active investigation. For that reason, we are not releasing any further information,” Officer Niccole Pacchetti, public information officer, said in an email. “We will provide more details when they become available.”