Andy Grove (1936–2016)
who survived the Nazi occupation before fleeing Soviet repression, Grove would go on to earn a Ph. D. in chemical engineering from Berkeley before joining Intel as its first employee in 1968 and serving as CEO from 1987 to 1998. He died in March at 79. Billionaire venture capitalist remembers him as a hero to the technorati—and to fellow refugees.
MY MOM LEFT BUDAPEST in 1956, the year Nikita Khrushchev stamped out the Hungarian revolt. As I was growing up, she’d show me newspaper clippings about another Hungarian refugee: Andy Grove, who was working at a budding company called Intel. I idolized Andy for years.
I finally met him for the first time in 1994. Intel was hosting a conference, and Andy was onstage, making big predictions about how the Internet would change everything. He was just as my mom’s articles had described: energetic, serious and brilliant. Afterward I introduced myself, and I got to see another side of Andy, his kindheartedness and generosity. We talked about Hungary and our families for a half-hour— never mind that he was in the middle of running the conference.
We stayed close over the years, and he used to love asking me when I was going to get a real job. “You know, enough of this venture capital gig,” he’d say. I took some of his other advice more seriously. He believed that optimists pay attention to good news but often miss key indicators of bad news. I’m constantly reminding young entrepreneurs of that today.
Two years ago, I returned to Budapest with my parents. All of their friends eagerly asked me if I had ever gotten the chance to meet Andy Grove. He is a hero to a whole generation of Hungarians. As soon as I found out that he passed away, I called my mom. I could hear the sadness in her voice, and I’m sure she could hear it in mine.