Yesterday, Andy Grove died. Frankly, I am still processing that. I first met Andy in 1982 at the PC Forum. Andy was 46 and I was 37. The next time I met him was in 1984 when I was interviewing for a position at Intel. I would be reporting to Les Vadasz, who, like Andy, was a Jewish Hungarian refugee. I interviewed with both Gordon Moore and Andy Grove, to whom, Les reported. I must have done something right that day, because, during the interview, Andy picked up the phone and told Les that he should hire me. I can’t say that I had many other days like during the times I worked with Andy. He and I had a kind of rocky relationship over the fifteen years that I worked at Intel. I learned a great deal from Andy. Sadly, I don’t think the opposite was true. Andy never really got me, but on the other hand, was very supportive and respectful in his own way. When I thought about leaving Intel out of frustration about three years after joining, Andy talked me into staying. I will never forget him telling me that I should stay “because we accept you.” I think he meant that while I was weird, that was ok because I shared many common values with Andy and Intel including the ability to get things done. When Les proposed that I be made a Corporate Vice President (one of just 33 officers), Andy supported Les and sure enough, I became an officer of one of the most successful companies in the world.
I felt that Intel and in particular, Andy, was too insular and I tried to introduce Andy to people from other industries. I was able to get him to join me at the Allen&Co conferences in Sun Valley. He loved going, I think. But then when I brought Steven Spielberg to visit Intel and asked him to join the meeting, he called me a “star fucker.” I got to bust him later when I saw a photo that was taken that day with Andy and Spielberg, taped to the refrigerator in the kitchen of his home. Over the years, I did see that Andy became more outgoing and more subtle. But I was often frustrated, I guess with myself because I did not have the impact on this thinking that I wanted. In particular, I failed to get him to understand the Internet was not just a way of connecting PCs together.
Once, I sent him a memo calling him the Mick Jagger of Technology. I said that he, like an aging rock star, just wanted to make today last. But that incidentally also demonstrated something special about Andy. He could dish it out (and oh how he could dish it out) but he could also take it. I probably went up a notch in his thinking because of that email although I am sure he did not take is the message to heart.
Andy was there for me when I got Prostate Cancer. He was in the class a year ahead of me. He was very concerned about my health. But in the typical Andy fashion, he became fanatic about his diet and expected me to eat the same way. I ended up hiding out in the cafeteria when I eat cottage cheese.
Andy stepped down as CEO in 1998 but stayed Chair of the Board for a while. I left Intel in 1999. I didn’t see him very often. Les Vadasz stayed close to him and through Les and other friends, I learned about Andy’s Parkinson disease. It really upset me to think that Andy would be robbed of his health during the years when he could have turned his talents to other pursuits. Of course, he did his best during those difficult years but how painful it must have been for him both physically and mentally and how sad and difficult for his wife, Eva. Andy taught me one more lesson which is the importance of moving on.
The last time I saw Andy was in 2013 at the 45th anniversary of Intel. He was there with his wonderful wife, Eve. I went up to him and said, “give me a fucking hug”. He did and I am very glad that was my last experience of Andy.