‘A strong leader’: UC Berkeley lecturer Rob Chandra dies at 53

Rob Chandra, a highly accomplished venture capitalist and beloved Haas School of Business lecturer, died over the weekend of Oct. 19 at the age of 53.

After receiving his bachelor’s degree at UC Berkeley, Chandra went on to Harvard Business School before returning to teach about venture capital and entrepreneurship at the Haas school.

“He’s basically idolized in Haas and Berkeley as an entrepreneur and a strong leader in the tech space because of his background in venture capitalism. His class is very famous,” said campus senior Zaheer Ebtikar. “During (the) first few weeks, we had so many kids just sitting on the ground because everyone wanted to get into the class.”

Chandra’s many accomplishments include being listed five times on Forbes’ Midas list of tech’s top investors. In November 2018, he was named one of the top 50 teachers in 2018 by Poets & Quants magazine.

Those who knew him described him as highly intelligent, genuinely caring and humble.

“As a family member he was so humble it was astonishing,” said nephew Nishant Chandra in an email. “He would win all of these awards and never mention them to us. Instead he would ask all of us about our lives and what was going on there, never bringing up anything he had accomplished.”

Ebtikar recalled that he walked Chandra out of class Oct. 15 to ask him about his hedge fund idea. Though Chandra’s time was hard to come by because he had so many students, Ebtikar said he still made time to talk to them.

According to Ebtikar, Chandra saw potential in all of his students and approached student ideas as a “real idea” not a “pipe dream.” He added that Chandra took ideas seriously from students of all ages and didn’t care about their backgrounds, which was “very refreshing.”

Nishant Chandra said his uncle loved UC Berkeley and teaching on campus.

“Just being able to make an impact on so many people, and particularly at his Alma Mater is something that I think he was very proud of,” Nishant Chandra said in an email.

Nishant Chandra added that some of his favorite memories of his uncle were the life skills Chandra taught him — things like always making eye contact with people when talking to them or never being on your phone when you are with someone so you can give them your full attention.

He is survived by his wife Shikha Chandra, son Rohin Chandra and daughter Nina Chandra.

“He accomplished more than most people in investing and tech and had a lower profile because it was always about other people not him,” said Andy Slavitt, general partner at Town Hall Ventures and close family friend. “He took great pleasure in being there for other people.”

Contact Maria Young at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @maria_myoung.