The Innovation Community Remembers Bruce

If you have anything you’d like to share—an anecdote about Bruce, a photo, an appreciation—please e-mail us at

Bruce was the voice of innovation in San Diego. I miss him, as so many others in San Diego do. A tremendous loss for his family and our region.

—Larry Smarr, Founding Director, California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2)

It feels like just yesterday that we were at the Xconomy Forum on Big Data Meets Big Biology event on April 26. As usual for an event created by Bruce Bigelow, everyone was there and a multi-disciplinary, stimulating, valuable discussion was had. Invariably we found ourselves staying put well past the event end time—to be finally shoed out by the crew breaking down the room. This was professional networking spawning into friendships, and such was the essence of Bruce. As we all process the untimely loss of our dear friend and community leader, it’s important to celebrate his purpose and memory.

At that April event, a group of new and old friends in tech had come to be hanging out after the event, talking about Bruce and his leadership. We reflected on how Bruce was one of the earliest to see big data coming, even before the sensors were collecting it and the genome sequencers were producing it, and he got us all talking about it. Bruce seemed to know we needed to carve out time as leaders to connect cross-disciplinarily. He and Xconomy would host intimate dinners centered around timely topics—then convene expansive networking events where colored dots on your name badge had you speaking with someone you otherwise wouldn’t have connected with—but needed to. His programs and events were naturally inclusive and diverse. Bruce was a responsible steward of change and really poked at topics and interviewees. There were no puff pieces out of Bruce, even if you were his friend! And he was a proud leader of our local tech community—an inherently collaborative region to show the world what’s possible in the deployment of new tech.

We are grateful for the environments Bruce created for us—from events we gathered in to stories that we shared—that have been an invaluable fabric of San Diego tech and the professionals that make it come to life. We miss you already, Bruce…

—Dawn Barry, Co-Founder & President, Luna DNA, and Michael Heltzen, CEO, BlueSEQ Innovations

It was with shock and profound sadness I heard today about the passing of Bruce. It was such a shock because when I came to San Diego for a whirlwind tour on Entrepreneurship, Bruce was the eye of the hurricane taking me from place to place with a boundless font of energy and enthusiasm seemingly knowing everyone and everything, from the scientists into biotech at Scripps Institute to the academics teaching entrepreneurship at the universities to the scrapping entrepreneurs at the ground level in the entrepreneurship meet up.

The profound sadness comes in many dimensions, at a personal level for his family but also at the professional level. He was an old-school journalist of the type more likely to be seen in movies like Spotlight than on the beat covering our industry. It was only in passing that he mentioned that he had won a Pulitzer and I had to go look it up to make sure I heard it correctly. But then even more so, the follow up conversations about how he had come to win this recognition showed what seems to be so undervalued in today’s society—super high quality, ethical, tough journalism. I know the challenges and problems we face in our own world of high-tech entrepreneurship pale compared to other problems in our world today, but Bruce had the energy, the character, the intellect and the skills to be remembered as a first-rate journalist. He will be missed. I wish my best to his family and friends in what must be an incredibly difficult time when someone so good was taken from us far too soon.

—Bill Aulet, Managing Director, Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship and Professor of the Practice, MIT Sloan School of Management

Bruce was a talent unlike any other. His words made highly technical subjects relatable, and his voice was heard throughout the San Diego innovation economy. It was always a pleasure to work with Bruce, and I always appreciated his ability to see a story from multiple perspectives. He was an insightful ally in pushing the region’s tech ecosystem and a great sounding board to bounce ideas back and forth. From the entire team at EDC, we’ll miss him tremendously.

—Matthew Sanford, Director, Economic Development, San Diego Regional EDC

It is difficult to find the words to describe my lengthy professional relationship with Bruce and my deep respect for his journalism. His insightful commentary and gifted writing has had a lasting impact on the life science community here in San Diego and elsewhere. I am still deeply saddened and shocked at his passing. I feel like my phone could ring any moment – and there he’d be – ready with an idea, thought, or penetrating question about our life science industry. More than a reporter, Bruce was a friend to Biocom. We partnered with him on a variety of events and also served on panels together for so many years. Bruce was creative, bold, adventurous and always open to new ideas and over-the-horizon thinking. We lift his family up in our prayers and join with others in celebrating the extraordinary life and character of this gentleman who has left us too soon.

—Joe Panetta, President and CEO, Biocom

Cynthia Burzell, the rest of Team Aequor and I send our deepest sympathies to the Xconomy team and his family for the loss of Bruce Bigelow. Our woman-owned small business greatly appreciated Bruce’s outreach to us to ensure that we were included in events and his on-going support of innovation, enrepreneurship, and his personal interest in our progress to develop innovative green chemicals for agro-industry and medicine. He will be very much missed.

—Marilyn J. Bruno, CEO, Aequor

As a PR professional, I aspire to bring all professional relationships to a level of disclosure where you can talk about shop but also about each other’s lives outside of work—it’s the best kind. I’m honored that I had this sort of relationship with Bruce—where he was comfortable enough to share his ideas for Xconomy while sharing his love for the outdoors and lecturing me on how important taking time off was. Bruce’s quirky personality was always a delight and I’ll miss his e-mails to check-in on me on the east coast. This was a life ended too soon. Sending positive thoughts to his family and loved ones.

—Cammy Duong, Director, MacDougall Biomedical Communications

I am so sorry to hear of Bruce’s extremely untimely passing. Although I didn’t know Bruce well, as a longtime San Diego Biotech CEO I have had plenty of opportunities to speak with him. He truly was one of the very good ones. When he was collecting information for a story it was clear that he wasn’t just “doing his job”, he was intellectually curious and engaged. His enthusiasm was infectious and I will miss my discussions with him. The San Diego innovation sector has lost one of its true believers!

—Paul Laikind, ViaCyte

I have known Bruce for almost 10 years. During this time, I received a lot of support for our startup company. Bruce was always happy to write about our technology, invite us to meetings and gatherings and facilitate relationships. The quality of his work was impeccable, on point and from the heart. Our team is incredibly sad to have lost him at such young age.

—Stephanie Rosenthal, Chief Operating Officer, Qubitekk

I had many enjoyable conversations with Bruce over the two decades or so that I knew him. He was at the UT when I first met him. I was just a PR person pitching another story, but he took the time to listen, redirect, question and discuss what would make the story work. Later, as I got to know him a little better, I had several conversations with him on the roles of media and public relations, including one last summer about the importance of journalism in the current era. I was looking forward to having that chat with him again at an event in a few weeks. I’ll miss Bruce; he was a kind and thoughtful person. My thoughts and wishes go to his family and friends.

—Erik Clausen, Managing Partner, CG Life

I met Bruce in the early 1990s when I had just joined CONNECT. He remained a good and trusted colleague as well as a friend since then. When he started his deep dive into entrepreneurship with his profile of Rokenbok, I remember him worrying that with a team of serial entrepreneurs it would be easy for them to raise the money and launch the product and there wouldn’t be enough for him to write about. As we all know he needn’t have worried – his series of articles was a great in-depth look at the heart of a start-up as well as all of the business and technical challenges of launching a completely new toy.

After I left San Diego and moved to Cambridge, Bruce would still call when he had a question about some of the old companies and people I had worked with or when he had some news he knew I would like to hear. And when Xconomy San Diego was starting, I knew that Bruce would be the right person for you to work with – I am glad that I was able to help you persuade him to join. You got a great journalist – as we all know from the multiple awards he received – but also a truly good person. It is a great loss for his family, San Diego and Xconomy.

—Abi Barrow, Interim Executive Director, Office of Technology Commercialization and Ventures, University of Massachusetts

I remember the night I found our Bruce had passed. Felt like a gut punch, having lost a friend and colleague so suddenly. No doubt the past couple of years had its ups and downs for Bruce. But throughout it all, he remained a good friend, and was always focused on figuring out the cool next San Diego tech community meetup opportunity. I loved chatting with him about the topics San Diegans would value most, as well as brainstorming the right mix of leaders from the life sciences, software, internet, design and academic worlds to ensure another special Xconomy event. Bruce, you made a real positive impact on people’s lives (including mine), and you’ll be sorely missed.

—Jon Belmonte – Active Network/Cursive Labs

I was SO sorry to hear that Bruce had died—news coming from a friend who reintroduced us about 15 years ago. I knew Bruce when we were both good friends in junior high in Denver. We lived near each other and hung out a fair amount. His house was the best house for Capture The Flag that I ever saw. Big open front and back yard with no fence. It was in Englewood in Denver. We played many a game there in 7th and 8th grade.

We became closer friends when we each discovered we both liked to draw. We would meet in his basement and draw prehistoric animals—mostly fish creatures of enormous size, deep underwater. I remember his drawing and the colors he used were amazing. He was an artist and he inspired me to continue drawing on my own.

I eventually became a writer, like he—though I started in radio and ended up in advertising. I now live in Portland. I saw him a lot from 1967-69 and then our family moved to Montana. I am so amazed to read about his accomplishments in journalism. We would have been great friends for life if we had not moved away from Denver way back then. We were simpatico in many ways. My best to his family and friends.

—Tom Vandel, Les Overhead

If you have anything you’d like to share—an anecdote about Bruce, a photo, an appreciation—please e-mail us at

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