Tech executive Bob Lee, founder of Cash App, dies after apparent stabbing attack in San Francisco

Bob Lee, the former chief technology officer of Square who helped launch Cash App, has died after an apparent stabbing attack in San Francisco.

Lee's death was confirmed by Josh Goldbard, the CEO of his current employer, MobileCoin. Lee joined MobileCoin, a cryptocurrency and digital payments startup, in 2021 as its chief product officer.

"Our dear friend and colleague, Bob Lee passed away yesterday at the age of 43, survived by a loving family and collection of close friends and collaborators," Goldbard said in a statement to CNN.

"Bob was a dynamo, a force of nature. Bob was the genuine article. He was made for the world that is being born right now, he was a child of dreams, and whatever he imagined, no matter how crazy, he made real."

Goldbard continued: "We will miss you Bob. We love you."

Rick Lee, Bob's father, also confirmed the news in a statement on Facebook, writing, "I just lost my best friend." The father said that his son "lost his life on the street in San Francisco early Tuesday."

"Bob would give you the shirt off his back," the father wrote. "He would never look down on anyone and adhered to a strict no-judgement philosophy."

Rick Lee added that his son "will be missed by all those that knew him" and thanked those who have reached out and offered support.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed also reacted to the news in a statement Wednesday (local time), calling Lee's death "a horrible tragedy." Breed said the police are still investigating Lee's death and would be sharing more details soon.

According to an earlier statement from the San Francisco Police Department, officers responded to the report of a stabbing early Tuesday morning in the Rincon area of San Francisco, where they found "a 43-year-old adult male victim suffering from apparent stab wounds".

"Officers rendered aid and summoned medics to the scene. The victim was transported to a local hospital with life-threatening injuries. Despite efforts by first responders and medical personnel, the victim succumbed to his injuries," the police statement said.

Multiple local news organisations cited unnamed police sources saying Lee was the victim of the stabbing. Police indicated no arrests have been made and that the investigation remains active.

San Francisco has been grappling with an apparent uptick in crime as it still attempts to bounce back from the pandemic. Preliminary police data reports 12 homicides in San Francisco this year, an uptick of 20 percent compared to the same time period in the previous year. In total, there were 56 homicides in San Francisco in 2022, which is the exact same number of homicides the city saw in 2021.

While Goldbard did not provide the circumstances of Lee's death in his statement, he wrote in a separate Twitter thread reacting to the news that, "As a lifelong Bay Area resident I have more questions than answers tonight."

"I don't know how to fix what's wrong, but I know something isn't working in our grey city. Bob left this world too soon," Goldbard wrote on Twitter.

Outpouring of grief

Many others in the tech world and beyond responded to news of Lee's death with an outpouring of shock and grief.

"It's so hard to believe he is gone," Figma CEO Dylan Field wrote in a tweet, recalling how he first met Lee back in 2006.

Tech investor Ryan Gilbert of Launchpad Capital tweeted that Lee "was one of a kind," adding, "May his memory be a blessing."

And Mixed Martial Arts fighter Jake Shields remembered Lee as a "loyal friend" in a tweet, writing, "RIP brother."

Shields' tweet garnered the attention of Twitter's new owner Elon Musk, who chimed in to say that, "Violent crime in SF is horrific and even if attackers are caught, they are often released immediately." Musk tagged San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins in his tweet.

Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Square (which is now called Block), responded to the news via a post early Wednesday on the decentralised social media app Nostr. "Heartbreaking," Dorsey wrote. "Bob was instrumental to Square and Cash App."

Lee was Square's first-ever chief technology officer. Prior to joining Square, Lee was at Google, where he helped lead the team that launched Android.