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Remembering David Stern (1942-2020)

January 2, 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 and health. WHOOP members include professional athletes, Fortune 500 CEOs, fitness enthusiasts, military personnel, frontline workers and a broad range of people looking to improve their performance. WHOOP has raised more than $400 million from top investors and is valued at $3.6 billion, making it the most valuable standalone wearables company in the world. Ahmed has recruited an active advisory board that consists of some of the world’s most notable cardiologists, technologists, marketers, and designers. Ahmed was recently named to the 2021 Sports Business Journal 40 under 40 list as well as 2020 Fortune 40 Under 40 Healthcare list and previously named to Forbes 30 Under 30 and Boston Business Journal’s 40 Under 40. Ahmed founded WHOOP as a student at Harvard, where he captained the Men’s Varsity Squash Team and graduated with an A.B. in government.