Eric Young

Obituary of Eric Anderson Young

Eric Anderson Young

February 3, 1956 – October 23, 2021



Of all the things Eric was involved with, accomplished and enjoyed – and there were many of each – his role as father and husband was, for him, by far the most important and fulfilling. He met his wife, Jean, on a blind date in 1989, the day after the San Francisco earthquake. Jean always says the earth moved for her that day- compliments of aftershocks and meeting Eric. They married on August 3, 1991, and built a partnership and family that was absolutely at the core of their 30+ years together. Their son, Ryan was born in 1994, and Connor followed in 1997. Nothing brought Eric more joy or more pride than this foursome.


Eric loved the role of teacher and mentor across his life, and particularly with his sons. He shared and instructed Ryan and Connor in the outdoor activities he loved so much, and the family spent much of their spare time fishing, hunting, skiing, hiking and traveling. He taught them golf, both the etiquette and mechanics, analyzing swings and hole play and providing tips for improvement. He shared his love of music with live concert attendance starting when the boys were very young, evolving from jazz, ZZ Top and Earth Wind & Fire concerts to Metallica and AC/DC. He also loved all things fast, riding motorcycles and racing cars, and introduced the finer points of dirt biking to his sons.


Like everything else his boys showed an interest in, Eric embraced Boy Scouts, becoming a Troop 57 Assistant Scoutmaster, leading annual backpacking trips to the Sutter Buttes, and guiding fishing expeditions. He taught the shotgun merit badge and firearm safety for years and was instrumental in the development of a rifle range at BSA’s Camp Oljato. A former Scout himself, Eric was incredibly proud of his two Eagle Scout sons. He also traveled to many, many sports matches in which his boys played, always serving as an informal “team photographer.” A SJ Sharks season ticket holder since their inaugural season and hockey player in his youth, Eric especially loved watching Connor in goal for Bellarmine College Prep and his club team.


Born in Michigan to Gerald and Shirley Lund Young, Eric grew up in Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio and western New York with his parents and sister, Heidi. The family moved seven times as his father pursued a career in the steel industry, after which Eric lived in another six cities before settling in Palo Alto in 1987. Eric attended high school in Ohio and New York. At Cornell University, Eric earned a BS in Mechanical Engineering and was a proud member of Sigma Chi Fraternity. Then, knowing he was interested in a more broad-based business career, he attended Northwestern’s MBA program. 


At Northwestern, Eric was recruited by General Electric, where he initially worked in sales, marketing, operations and as General Manager for one of their turbine companies in the Bay Area. When offered a role in GE’s brand-new venture capital group, Eric jumped at the chance. He opened their West Coast office, returning him to the Bay Area he loved, and Silicon Valley, which held so many tech-based investment opportunities. Five years later, he and three partners spun GEVENCO out of GE and founded Canaan Partners, where he was a General Partner for 32 years.


At Canaan, Eric loved helping build organizations and developing leaders – both internally at Canaan, and with the firms in which they invested. Culture was incredibly important to him, and he fostered organizations built on positive values and a belief that every person should be listened to, respected and appreciated. He set a standard of excellence and integrity. Per his colleagues, “Eric was and will always be the heart and soul of Canaan.”


Eric’s passion for entrepreneurship, experiential education and mentoring along with his venture capital mentality informed a broad range of involvements – including many for which he saw a need, developed a plan and provided seed funding to get the opportunity going. At Bellarmine, where he regularly spoke to students about venture capital, he identified a need for more technical education and hands-on experience, so worked with school administration to create an Innovation and Design Program with both curriculum enhancements and a student Innovation Lab.


At his and his son Connor’s alma mater, Cornell, Eric was a pillar of the entrepreneurship community for more than 25 years. He served as an active Advisory Council member to the Entrepreneurship at Cornell program, most recently as vice-chair. His input was deemed invaluable, and he helped lead the fundraising efforts when the program built a new co-working space for student entrepreneurs. Noting that PhD students often lacked opportunities to get out of the lab and do real customer discovery on their inventions, Eric also helped define and establish the Cornell PhD Commercialization Fellows program to directly address this deficit. In addition, he served on several other advisory boards including the College of Engineering Council and Red Bear Angels. He was also a top-rated guest lecturer on entrepreneurship for two decades and mentored undergraduate and graduate students through six different Cornell programs. 


At Northeastern University, where his son, Ryan, studied, Eric was introduced to Scout, a student-led design studio providing design services to early-stage ventures in the university’s entrepreneurship program. Eric believed Scout’s designers should think of themselves as entrepreneurial leaders, not just great designers. Over many years, he personally mentored Scout’s leaders on using an entrepreneurial mind-set to drive their organizations as they helped clients develop distinctive brands and take products to market. The students responded with great innovation and energy. Eric always delighted in their personal growth, and they were honored by the keen interest he showed in them. Eric was also one of the founders of Mosaic, the network of student-led organizations bringing innovation and entrepreneurship across Northeastern University. He served for many years on the Mosaic Council and the President’s West Coast Council.


At both universities, as well as Stanford University and Northwestern’s Kellogg, Eric showed clearly how much he loved to interact with students-- often staying well past a scheduled talk to answer questions and talk through their business ideas both ad hoc and via structured programs. He often continued to actively mentor individual students for years after they graduated college as they became successful entrepreneurs.


Across his involvements and successes, Eric was known for his kindness, generosity, humility and integrity. Colleagues, entrepreneurs and students alike uniformly commented on the genuine interest he took in projects, opportunities and hurdles, giving generously of both time and knowledge. He listened intently and respectfully, absorbing and analyzing information until the end, then offered insightful comments and always-constructive feedback. He was honest without judgment, and made people feel like valued equals. These were the key attributes that made people seek him out.


Retirement was prime time for Eric to do all the things he loved: spending time with their black lab, Maverick, taking numerous fishing and hunting trips every year, and traveling, all with Jean, their sons, and friends. Eric’s face would beam with unmitigated joy as he shared his passions with those most important to him.


Eric’s sons have benefited from a lifetime of lessons and love and will always remember his teaching the importance of a strong work ethic, being accountable, and, again, acting with integrity. When asked about his accomplishments, Eric replied “proud father of two fine young men.”


Eric is survived by his love, partner, and wife of 30 years, Jean, his two sons, Ryan and Connor, his sister, Heidi Young Nash (Tim), and nephew and nieces Sean, Kristen, and Meredith Nash. He will be remembered and missed by many friends, colleagues, and others who had the chance to interact with him across his many involvements.


The memorial service will be private, by-invitation only due to space constraints. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to one of his favorite causes: Cornell University, Northeastern University, Camp Oljato or California Wildlife Foundation.


Cornell University

Entrepreneurship @ Cornell



Danielle Bluey



Northeastern University

Scout Fund

Luanne Kirwin



Boy Scouts- Camp Oljato Fund

Silicon Valley Community Foundation

Attention: Gifts Administration- Oljato Fund #1442

2440 West El Camino Real, Suite 300

Mountain View, CA 94040-1498



California Waterfowl

Wetlands Fund- Butte Sink

Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge Project

1346 Blue Oaks Blvd.

Roseville, CA 95678


Share Your Memory of