about business / Avram's Past

Conan Obrien visits Intel


This is a very funny video with Conan O’Brien visiting Intel.  I do not know how it happens but it is a typical example of Intel poking fun at itself.  The company does have humor although these days they might not be finding as much to laugh about.  See the video here. When I interviewed for my  job at Intel, Gordon Moore who was at the time CEO, Andy Grove who was COO, Les Vadasz Senior VP and badge number 3 my ultimate boss and good friend)and several other senior executives met with me in their cubicles. There was just room enough for two or maybe three people. No one had a real office and I think this is still the case. I understood this would be my situation if I joined.  On one hand I did not look forward to this although I did end up with a cubicle with a window. In my previous job as President of Franklin Computer, I had an office the size of a small living room but I also remembered that Franklin went bust. I thought back to my years at Digital Equipment.  Two things stuck in my mind. One was a visit to meet the head of computer retail at Sears (this was about 1982 and Sears was opening up computer retail stores).  We could not meet in his office since he was a not VP and the office he had just been given had belong to a VP.  VP’s had offices with doors that open to one side where their assistance sat.  Since he was not a VP his office was being changed so his door was on the hall and his assistant would sit across from that in an open office. They had to change the rug because VP’s could pick out there own rugs but if you were not a VP the rug had to match the hall rug. The next time I visited we meet in a conference room.  He had just been made a VP and they were redoing his office. At digital, we had what was called executives sponsors.  The executive sponsor was responsible for dealing with a particular account from the “feel good” point of view.  Ken Olsen asked me to take care of Ford.  Ford was a major customer and Philip Caldwell, the CEO of Ford was on the board of Digital Equipment and Ken Olsen was on the Board of Ford (no one cared about interlocking board members then).  In particular, Ken asked me to bring Phil’s assistant a Decmate which was Digital’s Word Processor.  I was brought to Ford by the digital sales man who took me there in a (you guessed it) Ford.  He told me that all sales people that called on Ford from any company had to have Fords or they would not be let in.  The parking lot was full of Fords.  There was no other model.  I asked one of the executives at Ford if Phil was driven to work in a Ford.  He said of course.  I asked if it was a standard Ford.  He said of course.  I asked if there was anything different about the car. He thought for a moment and said. “Only that it was serviced every day”.   We then went up to the executive floor in a special elevator that did not stop at any other floor other than the very top floor where there were apartments for directors to stay in when they visited the company.  The got there via helicopter so they did not even have to take the elevator. The executive floor was made out of Italian marble.  Each executive suite had three units; 1) executive, 2) assistant and 3) conference room.  I was shown Phil’s office which contained millions of dollars of art bought by Henry Ford other CEOs.  Then I asked his assistant how she liked the Decmate which I had sent ahead.  She said that she never used it.  I asked why and she said that she never types.  When I asked her how she wrote the letters that Phil dictated she pointed to the floor and said they do it down there.  I found out later that down there was a typing pool.   Later I got a chance to learn some more about some of Ford’s culture.  It seems that if an officer of the company wrote something it was printed on blue paper. Otherwise it was printed on white paper.  I went over to a copy machine and sure enough there were two kinds of paper (white and blue). It seems like you also had to copy things on the correct color paper. So having lived through all of this, I decided to try Intel’s way for a while.  It worked pretty well for me. So well that when I left Intel, I was able set myself up on the 50th floor of building in San Francisco with a view of the bay bridge, decorate my office (the size of a living room) with Italian antique furniture and close the door. 

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