Avram's Past / Friends remembered / Intel / Uncategorized

The Andy Grove I knew


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.

12 thoughts on “The Andy Grove I knew

  1. Your’s is the BEST eulogy I have seen. Which is no surprise. You tell perfect stories, and your personal knowledge into “acceptance of weird” is both right, and genius beyond what most people can see.

    Steve is not around to do this right. I have not seen if Larry E. has done one. The other people I have seen are such complete morons (Ben H), I was thinking … I bet Andy would LIKE IT … if we called out his mistakes! So maybe “Craig Barrett”? Anyone? Ha! Or how about the simple fact that his mastermind beat the world with business strategy … but it turns out chip architecture is silly. Apple crushed that idea (and ARM). Now INTEL is just TSM right? Less actually. Hmm … Andy would care to be smart and notice that, YES?

    You did this, in your way … I loved it. THANKS!

    What A great guy, and it seems AG was truly giving and collaborating across all bounds. Not like todays a-hole SF VCs who want to associate (while stealing from kids, taking MORE with no risk taking bone).

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  2. Some book writer at HBS knows wrote something that may be the bible of strategy ….

    http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/the-5-strategy-rules-of-bill-gates-andy-grove-and-steve-jobs

    Key opening to the abstract =

    by Michael Blanding

    If there were a Mount Rushmore for technological innovation, Bill Gates, Andy Grove, and Steve Jobs would be the faces looking outward. The longtime CEOs of Microsoft, Intel, and Apple have done more than anyone to popularize the modern-day personal computer, and in doing so, also created three of the most highly valued companies in the world.

    This looks to be right up there with there with the Andy Grove masterpiece “High Output Management”.

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    • I am sorry you read it that way. There was nothing passive or aggressive intended. wrote about a man that had a major impact on my life. I cared for Andy but we had an uncomfortable relationship with him. I am certainly not blaming him for that. Andy was not an easy person and most people that knew him would agree. That takes nothing away from his achievements. I was actually exposed to his softer side on occasion. Fortunately, I have heard from a number of people that knew Andy well and appreciated my words and even thanks me for them.

      Perhaps, I can suggest that you reread my post.

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  3. Nah, cmon man. Its just not “fake” like most people do eulogy. I can feel what your saying John Baptiste, but you mistake authenticity for something else. Here is just a super honest reflection. YOU put THAT into AM’s life experience. He didn’t. Its just what it IS man. No sense making it nicer, cleaner, more positive … for you. What good scientists. I often consider, it must be hard to be smart in SV and not a Billionaire. So many peers are, even the dumber ones.

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    • A very good point. So many fawning eulogies for nasty people. (I’m NOT suggesting Andy Grove was a nasty person, by the way.)

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  4. Pingback: Avram Miller on the death of Intel’s Andy Grove – Diashmond

  5. Thank you, Avram. Great stories. It’s always hard to know you’re having an effect when you try to chip away at a granite mountain, but there’s always some effect.

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  6. Pingback: Knowledge is Power | Avram Miller on the death of Intel’s Andy Grove

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