Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Intel Trinity

The Intel Trinity must be considered one of the most successful teams in business history, yet it seems to violate all the laws of successful teams.

The founders of Intel were just such a diverse, volatile team, composed of three of the greatest business and scientific talents of the century.

It was a machine that just moved forward, slowly grinding away to gain market share and ever-greater dominance over the semiconductor industry, the electronics industry, the U.S. economy, and eventually the global economy. Intel microprocessor business, enjoyed the highest market value of any manufacturing company in the world, and Andy Grove was declared Time’s "Man of the Year".

In the late 1970s, Intel Corp along with a very young Apple Computer were one of the hottest companies on the planet. Not very liked, Intel then: too arrogant, too confidant of its engineering prowess and both humorless and relentless. The place was a pressure cooker, accompanied with stress and occasional heart attacks at the required Sunday morning meetings.

The three founders:

Gordon Moore, soft-spoken, affable but distant, the most empirical human being imaginable — and, thanks to his " Moore’s Law ", a man who likely would be remembered for centuries after Silicon Valley is gone.

Robert Noyce, warm and engaging, the most charismatic figure in Valley history (including Steve Jobs) — a man with one of history’s greatest inventions (the integrated circuit) on his resume and one of the greatest entrepreneurs of his time.

Andy Grove, fiery and relentless, a small man with a gigantic personality, who could never endure losing, and who may have been the greatest CEO of the second half of the twentieth century.

They filled in each other’s blanks. Noyce, for example, wanted to be loved and couldn’t bear to fire even the worst employee. Grove by comparison did it with relish. Grove the made sure Intel operated at peak performance, but it was Noyce the risk-taker who propelled it forward. Moore kept the company grounded to the harsh reality of the numbers.

Intel, probably made more mistakes than any company in tech history and that is because it took more risks than any other company. It’s also because – the source of its success – Intel is better than any company in high-tech history at learning from its mistakes; at picking itself up, dusting itself off, and diving back into the fight.

Excerpt from Michael S. Malone

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