The First Giant Of the Valley
Unsentimental and tough, Andy Grove raised a generation of tech legends who idolized him
Silicon Valley is full of logical absolutists, people who will follow a line of argument wherever it goes, no matter what the human repercussions. It’s a place where some seriously propose seceding from the U.S. to create a technological utopia, free of meddlesome government and the inferior majority.
Andrew Grove, who died f rom the effects of Parkinson’s disease on March 21 at the age of 79, could be as brutally logical as anyone in the tech cosmos he helped bring into existence. But he wasn’t only that—he was a rationalist with a deep humanity, who may be remembered as much for his mentorship as his intelligence. He hated the word mentor, though. “Corporate mentoring programs are a charade,” he told this magazine in 2011. “The moment someone says ‘mentor’ or ‘mentee,’ I get waves of nausea.” Yet at Intel, the semiconductor company he helped build, he cultivated a series of technical assistants, several of whom became leaders, too. Sean Maloney and Renée James both became top executives at the company; Paul Otellini went on to be chief executive officer. Grove also helped along younger entrepreneurs in the Valley throughout his career—among them Larry Ellison of Oracle, Steve Jobs of Apple, and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook. “I never stopped learning from him,” said Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates in a statement to Bloomberg News. “He was at the forefront of creating the personal-computer industry, and whenever we spent time together, I always came away impressed by his brilliance and vision.”
Jobs and Ellison once went to Grove’s house for his birthday. They wanted to show their respect for one of the rare technologists who arguably had even more impact on the culture and