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January 2, 2020

Remembering David Stern (1942-2020)

Remembering David Stern (1942-2020).

By Will Ahmed

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David Stern was a friend and a mentor to me. I met him when I was twenty-seven; I explained that we were building WHOOP to help athletes manage their bodies. David, having built the NBA for thirty years, told me “Just think of the value that you could create if every athletes’ career lasted even one year longer.” David became an investor and an advisor to WHOOP. I didn’t know what that would mean at the time, but I was excited to have him involved.

I called him a few months later and he didn’t answer, so I left a message. He called me back within minutes, asking “What can I do for you, Will?” I had a question about navigating one of the major pro sports leagues. He gave me great advice. At the end of our call, he said to me “You know Will, you should call me more!” He said it with a demanding and playful tone. And so just like that, I started calling him. He almost always answered right when I called and if he didn’t he called back later that day.

David Stern treated me as an equal. He went out of his way to help me and to help WHOOP. He truly cared about athlete well-being and he loved investing in technology that could tackle the mission of improving human performance. When I told him I wanted to start a podcast, he offered to be my first guest. When we were debating athlete privacy on WHOOP, he pushed for empowering the athletes first. When we were raising money, he called investors on my behalf.

I always felt like I got so much more out of our time together than he did. So I asked him, “David, why do you like investing in sports technology so much?” He said with a big smile and wide arms “Will, because it’s the future.”

David was generous and passionate for life up to his very last days. I had a celebratory WHOOP dinner with him about a week before he was taken to the hospital and, as usual, he was cracking jokes and reminding the team to stay focused.

Thank you, David. I miss you. May you rest in peace.

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Will Ahmed

Will Ahmed is the Founder and CEO of WHOOP, which has developed next generation wearable technology for optimizing human performance. WHOOP today works with everyone from professional athletes to fitness enthusiasts to executives. Ahmed has raised nearly $100 million from top investors and has an active advisory board that consists of some of the world’s most notable cardiologists, technologists, and designers. He wrote “The Feedback Tool: Measuring Fitness, Intensity, and Recovery,” which sparked the underlying physiology and engineering for his work today. Ahmed was named a 2011 Harvard College Scholar for finishing in the top 10% of his class and a CSA Scholar Athlete; he captained the Harvard Men’s Varsity Squash Team. He was also recently named to Forbes 30 Under 30 and Boston Business Journal 40 Under 40.