SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — A terror attack in Nairobi, Kenya on Tuesday left 21 people dead. One of them was Jason Spindler, who was the CEO of iDev, a tech investment firm based in San Francisco.
Militants linked to Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s attack, which happened as five heavily armed attackers held siege at a luxury hotel and shopping complex.
Spindler’s coworkers called him a visionary; they told KPIX 5 that he was in Nairobi trying to improve the quality of life for small business owners there. He would have turned 41 on Monday, Jan. 21.
Spindler was a former member of the Peace Corps as well as an investment banker.
Patricia Chin Sweeney, Spindler’s business partner at iDev, said that he showed up late to work at Citigroup in New York on 9/11 because he tried to help people during the attack.
“He stayed around and pulled people out to get them to safety,” she said. Spindler likely tried to help people in the Nairobi attack, too.
iDev is the tech investment firm that Spindler and Sweeney built up together in business school. Though the firm’s based in the Bay Area, its focus is in 45 other countries, where it invests in small businesses in developing nations.
Sweeney said iDev will continue to dream big and support small businesses in Spindler’s honor; his friends said that turning back is not something he would have done, so neither will they.
The hotel and shopping center at which the attack occurred is popular with Westerners; Sweeney said she’s been there herself when iDev first launched in Africa. She said that the company will go back in the future.
“A lot of the reason he was doing this was he believed you could invest, build businesses, that they would stabilize economies, reduce the need for terrorism, war, hatred. It’s ironic it ended this way, but when you choose these battles, you don’t always win,” said Sweeney.