Andrew “Andy” Grove, who was the first person hired by Intel founders Gordon Moore and Robert Noyce, and went on to become Intel’s CEO and a legendary Silicon Valley leader, died today at age 79. Grove had long struggled with Parkinson’s Disease.
Intel put out a statement this afternoon with the sad news. “Andy approached corporate strategy and leadership in ways that continue to influence prominent thinkers and companies around the world,” said Intel Chairman Andy Bryant in the statement. “He combined the analytic approach of a scientist with an ability to engage others in honest and deep conversation, which sustained Intel’s success over a period that saw the rise of the personal computer, the Internet and Silicon Valley.”
I’d met Grove several times over the years working on a variety of feature stories. He was unfailingly blunt and gracious—both a patient and challenging interviewee.
One of those early interviews was for a series describing the first jobs of prominent engineers. Grove told me that he’d interviewed with 22 companies across the U.S. to find an engineering job, and the search taught him that “You meet a lot of self-important assholes out there.” Discovering Gordon Moore at Fairchild was, for Grove, “a breath of fresh air.” He turned down an offer from Bell Labs to go with “this strange little upstart” and followed Moore when he left Fairchild to start Intel. The rest of Grove’s story—of leading Intel, of moving the company from memory chips to microprocessors, and of becoming a best-selling author of management books—is a well-known bit of history.
What it wasn’t, was part of a plan. “Life,” Grove once told me, “is a random walk. You just walk along, and certain opportunities come your way.”
Today, sadly, marks the end of that walk for one of Silicon Valley’s greats.