Tribute To A Forbes Legend: Q.ai Founder Stephen Mathai-Davis

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This story appears in the August/September 2022 issue of Forbes Magazine. Subscribe

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For over a century, Forbes has championed entrepreneurs, and that’s true internally, too. Those who have shaped and reshaped this incredible company follow the spirit of founder BC Forbes, a journalist-turned-entrepreneur nonpareil, who implored readers to “spend your life on something that will outlast you.”

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Stephen Mathai-Davis fit brilliantly into that tradition. Multicultural and multilingual, he came from a Wall Street family, and he had an evangelist’s zeal for using technology and finance to help people. Stephen started Q.ai, an AI-driven platform that offered retail investors the same advantages available to hedge fund hotshots. Forbes bought a big stake in it, then let him run with it in the entrepreneurial style that had made him so successful in the first place.

On July 22, while preparing to shoot his new investing series on Forbes YouTube, Stephen collapsed at the office and never regained consciousness. He was 40, and he didn’t waste a day.

His brain was lightning quick: Conversations with him invariably stretched your synapses. His body was equally nimble: a competitive boxer and kickboxer, he held black belts in eight martial arts disciplines. But the most vivid part of Stephen was his spirit. His enthusiasm was infectious. “Someone would bring him a concept,” a colleague remembers, “and he would say ‘Let’s talk about this on Monday.’ And by Monday he had already sketched out his full ideas on it, ready to go.” He was also patient, explaining complex theories of AI and portfolio allocation in ways that made people feel like they were being brought into a special club.

People here were especially inspired by his love of his family, particularly his wife, Maria, and children, Stephanos and Sofia. In one email to his team, he dedicated the first paragraph to talking about how joyful his weekend had been, spending time with his three favorite people at the zoo. He was equally devoted to his parents, Prema and Wallace. Colleagues related invitations to his home, where they felt like they became part of his family.

Now he’ll always be part of ours. I hope that someday Stephanos and Sofia will read this and more fully understand what an awesome guy their dad was. Until then, we’ll all be carrying on his legacy. The epitaph for another Forbes family legend, Malcolm, seems fitting for Stephen, too: While alive, he lived.

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Credit: www.forbes.com /

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