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Legendary Intel CEO Andy Grove Leaves a Legacy of Tenacity

Andy Grove endured Nazi occupation, survived Soviet oppression and battled through prostate cancer on his path to helping create the world's largest chipmaker.

Intel Corporation

Andy Grove, who endured Nazi occupation, survived Soviet oppression and battled through prostate cancer to build the world’s largest chipmaker, died Monday at age 79.

Grove, who emigrated to the United States in the 1950s, was Gordon Moore and Robert Noyce’s first hire when they left Fairchild Semiconductor to launch Intel. During nearly four decades at the chipmaker, Grove rose to become president, CEO and chairman; under his leadership, Intel went from being a little-known maker of electronic components to a household name.

Grove will be remembered for many things, but perhaps most of all for the lesson he taught Intel and the world: No matter how good things look, challenges are always around the corner.

Success breeds complacency,” Grove wrote. “Complacency breeds failure. Only the paranoid survive.”

Only the Paranoid Survive” became the title of Grove’s bestselling business tome, one of several he wrote during his years at Intel.

Tributes to Grove came throughout the tech industry after his death Monday, including heartfelt posts from venture capitalist Ben Horowitz, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Apple CEO Tim Cook.

Cook said Grove was “one of the giants of the technology world,” who “epitomized America at its best.” Horowitz praised Grove as the best CEO and teacher he has known.

Horowitz also paid tribute to Grove last year, presenting him with the Legendary Leader award from the Churchill Club.

Grove pushed Intel workers to strive for the impossible, which made him not always the easiest guy to work for — or with. But that drive also helped shape a company that, for much of its history, managed to outflank would-be rivals and dominate the chip industry like no other.

Grove’s personal story is also one of tenacity and resilience. He was born in Budapest and moved to the United States in the mid-1950s, after enduring both Nazi occupation and Soviet repression. It’s a story Grove kept largely to himself for decades, but eventually shared with the world, including in his 2002 memoir, “Swimming Across.”

After getting an engineering degree at City College of New York, and a PhD at the University of California, Berkeley, Grove was hired at the legendary Fairchild Semiconductor in 1963 by Moore. And when Moore and Noyce left to start Intel in 1968, they made Grove their first hire.

Grove went on to serve as Intel’s president, CEO and chairman before retiring in 2005. Time Magazine named him Man of the Year in 1997.

In recent years, Grove battled Parkinson’s disease and took an active role in trying to help find a cure. He served as an adviser to the Michael J. Fox Foundation and used his personal foundation to support research on Parkinson’s.

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