Former Intel CEO Andy Grove Dies at 79

Date: 22-03-2016
Source: The Wall Street Journal

No cause of death immediately disclosed

Grove CCAndrew S. Grove, the Holocaust survivor who turned Intel Corp. into one of high tech’s most influential trendsetters, died at the age of 79.

No cause of death was immediately disclosed. Mr. Grove, who successfully fought a well-publicized battle against prostate cancer, had suffered from Parkinson’s disease in recent years.

The Hungarian-born executive, Time magazine’s Man of the Year in 1997, helped Intel weather a wrenching transition in the 1980s from supplying memory chips—a commodity product facing tough competition from Asia—into the dominant maker of microprocessors that serve as the calculating engines for most computers. Along the way, Mr. Grove helped turn Intel into one of the few consumer brands to emerge from the semiconductor industry.

“Probably no one person has had a greater influence in shaping Intel, Silicon Valley, and all we think about today in the technology world than Andy Grove,” said Pat Gelsinger, a longtime Intel manager who is now CEO of software maker VMware Inc. “I would not be where I am or who I am if it were not for the enormous influence of Andy as a mentor and friend for 30 years.”

Said Bill Gates, Microsoft Corp.’s co-founder and former CEO, who was one of Intel’s chief partners in building the PC industry: “Andy Grove’s death is a huge loss for the computing industry and everyone who had the honor to know him. I feel lucky to have been one of those people. He was at the forefront of creating the personal computer industry and whenever we spent time together, I always came away impressed by his brilliance and vision.”

Born András Gróf in Budapest, and later known as Andy, Mr. Grove was schooled in electrical engineering and received a Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley. He joined Fairchild Semiconductor and later Intel after it was founded by Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore in 1968.

Though not a founder of the Silicon Valley company, Mr. Grove put a decisive stamp on it. While Mr. Noyce became the chip industry’s statesman and Mr. Moore its most famous engineer, Mr. Grove supplied discipline and management skill that he would later incorporate in books and courses he taught at Stanford University.

His management books include “High Output Management,” “One on One With Andy Grove,” and “Only the Paranoid Survive.” His later memoir, “Swimming Across,” detailed his experience in Budapest during World War II and during the Hungarian Revolution before he escaped to the U.S.

“I think he is the greatest CEO we ever had in Silicon Valley,” said Ben Horowitz, co-founder of the venture-capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. “The company that he built that was the foundation of every company that came after it.”

Mr. Horowitz, who wrote a new forward to “High Output Management,” said Mr. Grove’s legacy was equally large in the management lessons he taught in that book and others. Among the lessons to managers was how to properly conduct a one-on-one meeting with subordinates–the people, Mr. Grove taught, that should do 90% of the talking, he said.

“Just because I picked up that book my career went down a completely different path,” Mr. Horowitz said.

Intel became known as one of Silicon Valley most egalitarian companies, marked by cubicles that were the same for top managers and rank-and-file engineers. Internal decisions were debated fiercely, with subordinates encouraged to speak their minds to their superiors.

The company, which started in memory chips, began to diversify significantly after International Business Machines Corp. selected its processor chips for the first IBM PC introduced in 1981. The product also used Microsoft’s DOS operating system. As part of the deal with Intel, IBM insisted that the chip maker license its chip designs to other companies, including Advanced Micro Devices Inc.
Mr. Grove in the 1990s spearheaded an effort to change that situation, touching off a series of legal disputes with AMD. They settled on an arrangement where AMD could make compatible chips based on the underlying x86 technology, but AMD had to come up with original designs for its products.

In the 1990s, Intel’s dominant position in chips that ran Microsoft’s software cemented the company’s influential position and remain a key foundation for a market valuation that currently stands at more than $150 billion.

“Andy made the impossible happen, time and again, and inspired generations of technologists, entrepreneurs, and business leaders,” said Brian Krzanich, Intel’s chief executive since 2013, in prepared remarks.

Mr. Grove was Intel’s CEO from 1987 to 1998 and its president from 1979 to 1997. He served as chairman from May 1997 to May 2005.

Mr. Grove and his wife, Eva, were married for 58 years and had two daughters and eight grandchildren.

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