Andy Grove: Visionary CEO
Andy Grove was born in Hungary on the eve of World War II to a Jewish family. When the Nazis invaded the country, his father was arrested and sent to an eastern labor camp. He and his mother survived by taking on false identities and relying on friends. The family reunited after the war and witnessed the siege of Budapest by the Soviets. During the Hungarian Revolution in 1956, he escaped across the border into Austria and then to the United States in 1957.
When he landed in New York, he was 20 years old, had little money and barely spoke English. But he did have a passion for learning. So while bussing tables to earn money, Grove attended City College of New York, eventually earning a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering in 1960. He continued his education at UC Berkeley and received his Ph.D. in 1963.
Shortly after, he began working as a researcher at Fairchild Semiconductor with Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore. In 1968, when Noyce and Moore left Fairchild to co-found Intel, Grove followed, joining as Intel’s director of engineering. He rose up the ranks, becoming president in 1979, CEO in 1987 and chairman in 1997.
Grove is credited with transforming Intel from a memory chip manufacturer into one of the world’s top microprocessor producers. In the 1980s, when the demand for Intel’s memory chips dropped, he made the call to focus its manufacturing on microprocessors. He then convinced IBM to use only Intel microprocessors in all of its personal computers. These decisions proved to be extremely profitable. From 1991 through 1996, Intel's revenues grew by 335.9 percent to $20.8 billion, with a profit margin of 24.7 percent.
In addition to his work at Intel, Grove was a consummate researcher and teacher. He published more than 40 technical papers, held several patents on semiconductor devices and taught graduate computer physics courses at UC Berkeley and Stanford School of Business. He also wrote a number of bestselling books, including Physics and Technology of Semiconductor Devices (1967) and Only the Paranoid Survive (1996).
Over the course of his career, Grove received a number of high-profile awards including, Chief Executive’s CEO of the Year (1997), Time Magazine’s “Man of the Year” (1997) and Industry Week’s “Technology Leader of the Year” (1997).