Today, we woke up to the sad news that Andy Grove, former CEO and Chairman of Intel, has passed away at the age of 79. This is our homage to him.
Born in Budapest, András Gróf was eight when the Nazis took over Hungary. With his father taken to a concentration camp, Andy and his mother ended up in a cramped apartment for Jews. One day, when Andy was ill, his mother was arrested for sourcing ingredients for a soup.
Following his mother’s release, Andy and his mother survived through Nazi occupation. This was thanks to fake IDs and the help of friends. The family was reunited following the war, only to find the communists now in control.
By the age of 20, Andy decided it was time to flee across the border to Austria. At the age of 21, Grove arrived in the US, taught himself English. Grove would later graduate with a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Berkeley.
Grove joined Fairchild Semiconductor out of Berkeley in 1963. In his spare time wrote ‘Physics and Technology of Semiconductor Devices’ . At Fairchild, Grove worked with Gordon Moore (of Moore’s law fame). Grove gained a deep admiration for Moore’s technical skills.
In 1968, Grove followed Moore and Robert Noyce into their new venture, Intel.
The three together would bring their different management styles to the company. Each took turns as CEO, at key points during the company’s evolution. Together, they created one of the most successful companies in Silicon Valley. They also drove new management styles, that are still used today. Grove had a hard-charging, no-nonsense approach as a manager. He was tough.
Grove wasn’t always the easiest person to work for – it was said he would fire his own mother if she got in the way. Grove had a no-bullshit style. His mantra was “Success breeds complacency. Complacency breeds failure. Only the paranoid survive.”
At Intel, Grove instilled a culture that was driven, focused and detail-aware. During his time as CEO, Grove oversaw a 4,500% increase in Intel’s market capitalisation, from $4 billion to $197 billion. This made Intel the world’s 7th largest company, with 64,000 employees.
Grove was also an idol and mentor to Steve Jobs. When considering his return to Apple in 1997, Jobs called Grove at 8am on a Saturday morning. Whilst giving Grove the pros and cons of returning to Apple, Grove stopped jobs and said, “Steve, I don’t give a shit about Apple.” According to Jobs, it was this that made him realise that he did give a shit about Apple. The rest of that story is one of the greatest corporate turnarounds in history.
Grove’s biggest talent was imposing crisp management procedures. He was able to get things done, through his leadership and vision. His management techniques have been adopted by hundreds of companies across the world.
He was a big thinker. He was able to take big ideas and hone in on the right ones. He was one of the fathers of Silicon Valley and a hero to many.
Check out Grove’s books on management:
And his memoir, Swimming Across.