Bob Nylen, Beliefnet's Beloved Co-Founder

Remembering a man of great integrity, humor, love, and bravery.

Robert Nylen Beliefnet's cofounderBob Nylen, the co-founder of Beliefnet, died Tuesday night of cancer.

He founded Beliefnet with me in 1999, served as its president and was on the board until the company’s sale last year. A Vietnam veteran, Bob also founded "New England Monthly" magazine and was instrumental in launching Waterfront Media, a successful internet health company. Fortunately, he completed an extraordinary memoir which will be published by Random House this spring.

Bob was a lovely, honest, smart man with great integrity and heart. A soldier, husband, father, writer, publisher, and gifted businessman, I was so blessed to have had him as a partner and friend.

Beliefnet certainly would not exist if not for Bob’s work and wisdom.


Bob inspired us, and instructed us, in many ways.

He led by example. When we were first hitting financial hard times, it was Bob who volunteered not once but several times to cut his own pay. His philosophy was, "Do the right thing and, eventually, others will follow." It was at the heart of the strategy as Beliefnet filed for Chapter 11 (and later recovered).

Bob taught us that successful entrepreneurs have to do the big things, and the little things. He helped craft the overall strategy, and raised the money, but he also found the office space, bought the computers, etc. That’s the way small businesses get built, and it is the way leaders can help create a business culture that draws the best out of everyone.

He believed in what he was doing. His willingness to work his tail off was absolutely essential fuel, especially in the early days.

Bob’s judgment and instinct about good ideas was always remarkable, even when it was the conventional wisdom to scoff.

Bob also had a warm and witty eye for irony and a good sense of humor. My greatest memories are simply of us laughing together.

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Steven Waldman
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