Saturday, August 30, 2014

Book Review: The Intel Trinity: How Robert Noyce, Gordon Moore, and Andy Grove Built the World's Most Important Company

1.  Why is the book's title "The Intel Trinity"?  

The book is about the three men who fashioned Intel in their likeness and image:
In the Silicon Valley, there is certainly an Intel "type": technology-focused, competent to the point of arrogance, combative, free of artifice and proud of it, proudly unhip, ferociously competitive, and almost serenely confident of ultimate victory--and all of it wrapped in a seamless stainless-steel box.  Were you to create an amalgam of Noyce, Moore, and Grove, you would not end up with the stereotypical Intel employee.  Yet were you to parse those Intel employees' traits, you would find all of them in the three founders--Andy's combativeness and plainess, Gordon's competence and confidence, and Bob's competitiveness and vision. (The Intel Trinity, p. 120)
Bob approached business differently than other great entrepreneurs.  It was his biggest weakness, but it is also what made him a great man.  Moore saw Intel, as he had Fairchild, as a platform for him to realize the technological impreative that perpetually filled his imagination.  For Grove, Intel was a vehicle by which he defined himself, by which he gained the world's respect for his extraordinary abilities, and something to be fiercely protected.  But for Boby Noyze, Intel Corporation was an extension of his self, the manifestation of his will and imagination, the measure of his ethics and morality.  People wanted to be Bob Noyze, and being an emplyee of Intel in its first five years was at least a partial way to do just that, to share in Bob's charisma and success.  And they loved him for it--it was the reason they forgave him all of his obvious flaws. (The Intel Trinity, p. 254)
In a sense, one may refer to Noyce as the "Father" because he is the acknowledged leader of the Traitorous Eight who bolted from Shockley to form a new company, Moore as the "Son" because he succeeded troubled Noyce by saying to him "I might like to try running Intel for a while," and Grove as the "Holy Spirit" because he built Intel's organization into a living organization in the same way as the Holy Spirit built the Church into the Body of Christ, as what we c an read from the Acts of the Apostles.

But Malone in his book has a different set of correspondences:
This book is called The Intel Trinity in part in a play on Noyce, Grove, and Moore (and his law) as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but also because these different characters, two of whom at various times didn't even like each other, somehow came together in one of the most powerful and successful management partnerships of all time. (The Intel Trinity, p. 338)
Since Moore's law is the spirit which guides the technological breakthroughs of Intel, he is assigned to the role of Holy Spirit, giving Grove the position of the "Son"; there is no question with Noyce being the "Father".

The Intel Trinity: How Robert Noyce, Gordon Moore, and Andy Grove Built the World's Most Important Company
The Intel Trinity: How Robert Noyce, Gordon Moore, and Andy Grove Built the World's Most Important Company
 2.  Why should a Catholic read this book?

Robert Noyce was born in a Congregationalist family.  His father was a preacher and his mother was a preacher's daughter.  Noyce's girlfriend had an abortion.  In 1969, a year after the publication of Pope Paul VI's Humanae Vitae,  Noyce had an extramarital affair and later divorced his wife.  After having another affair with an Intel employee, he left Intel.  His daughter Penny explained:
I think my father really lost his compass [in the 1970s].  It was a time of such change everywhere, such liberalization, such a relaxing of rules." (The Intel Trinity, p. 232)
Noyce himself felt guilty about the whole affair and its impact on his children.  He told his parents:
Nothing else I've done matters, because I've failed as a parent. (The Intel Trinity, p. 232) 
Moore and Grove, on the other hand, are the entire opposites of Noyce:
But Moore and Grove were a different matter.  Neither man was ever so reckless in his behavior.  By all appearances, Andy Grove was a happily married family man and would remain so for the rest of his life.  The same with Moore, whose uxorious relationship with his Betty was the stuff of Silicon Valley legend.  Their marriage was so close that it sometimes seemed they didn't even need the outside world.  Moore's reaction to the Noyce affair seems to have been pretty much a shrug, the sympathy of a man who will never face such a dilemma, and his standard default attitude: "Well, that's Bob." (The Intel Trinity, p. 233)
Several chapters in the book were devoted to Grove and among them is "Mother and Child," which reminds us of the many paintings of Mary holding the infant Jesus.  Grove belongs to a family of Jews in Hungary, also known as the Lands of the Crown of Saint Stephen, which used to be part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire that ended in 1918 during World War I.  During World War II, Hungary sided with Germany and Grove's father joined the troops that fought against Russia.  When Germany was on the brink of losing, Hitler attacked Hungary.  Then the Soviets took over.  Groves and his mother had to go from one hiding place to another.  Antisemitism was palpable in Europe at that time, though much less in Hungary. When Groves was asked why he never returned to his homeland in Budapest, Groves replied:

I will, but I don't think I will succeed in conveying them to you.  I have a hard time explaining what it is.  My life in Hungary was--to understate it--a negative experience.
The Obvious parts are, excuse me, obvious.  The war part was obviously negative.  Being shot at was negative.  Living under a Communist regime and being told what to think and what to see and what to read and what not to think and on and on was pretty bad.  Having my relatives imprisoned randomly was bad.  But that's not...those things....Some are changed.
What didn't change in my gut and in my heart is being told at age six that "Jews like you killed Jesus Christ, and we're going to push all of you into the Danube." To ahve a good friend of mine at age eight, when I told him who I was--his father took all the particulars down just in case theGermans cambe back to make sure this one doesn't get away either.
And people on the ship coming across the Atlantic after the Revolution being told by their Hungarian minister that you have to leave your anti-Semitism behind.  They were very upset about that.
My life was marred with personal experiences like that.  I don't have any emotional energy to devote to that.  There is nothing for me that justifies picking those scabs. (The Intel Trinity, p. 295)
The Intel Trinity: How Robert Noyce, Gordon Moore, and Andy Grove Built the World's Most Important Company
The Intel Trinity: How Robert Noyce, Gordon Moore, and Andy Grove Built the World's Most Important Company
 3. Why should business managers read this book?

Grove's favorite book is The Practice of Management by Peter Drucker:
In an interview in 2004 with ARnold Thackray and David Brock of the Chemical Heritage Foundation, Grove would profess to being a voracious reader of management books, in part because, given his job, it was the one part of his education that he lacked.  Of all of the books he'd read over the years, Andy said that his favorite was a little book written in 1954 by the dean of management theory, Peter Drucker, called The Practice of Management.  In that book, Drucker takes on the question of what makes an ideal chief executive officer.  He says that such an individual is really a tripartite character or, as Adny read it, applying hits message to Intel, three people: "an outside man, a man of thought, and a man of action." To Andy, who sent copies of this chapter to his two partners, Boby Noyce was Mr. Outside, Gordon Moore was Mr. Thought, and Andy was Mr. Action. (The Intel Inside, p. 338)
The Chapter 20. Crush of The Intel Trinity also provides an insight into marketing.  In 1978 Intel unveiled the Model 8086 16-bit microprocessor, which is huge advancement from the first true microprocessor, the Model 8080.  But 18 months later, Motorola launched its own 68000 which was considered "a masterpiece, one of the greatest microprocessors ever designed" (The Intel Trinity, p. 200).  Later, Zilog, then headed by Federico Faggin who used to lead the invention of microprocessor at Intel, launched its own Z8000.  Intel was crushed.  So what Groves of Intel did was to gather all its best marketing executives and he told them not to emerge until they had found a marketing solution because Intel had run out of engineering breakthroughs.  The result is a marketing classic in positioning by product differentiation as described in the book Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind:
Besides its image, what products and services did Intel have that made the 8086 a better solution for nervous customers than its competitors?  This led to a second list, this one of product advantages.  It included the fact that Intel was a company of specialists--the entire company was devoted to the world of microprocessors--not generalists making everything from memory to car radios, like Motorola.  Better yet, with the 8086, Intel was offering a more complete package of supporting chips, including a math coprocessor--Zilog didn't have them, and Motorola's weren't neatly as good.  Intel aslo offered its customers a collection of tools specifically designed to help them design products around its microprocessors.  The best of these, the Intellec in-circuit emulators, would later be recognized as the first proto-personal computers...It was becoming clear to the team that it really did have a response to the Motorala challenge, that it could create a wholly new "product" merely out of the other products and services that Intel already had on hand, once they were combined into an overarching solution. They even had a bold, in-your-face, name for this new initiative: Operation Crush. (The Intel Trinity, p. 207)
After recognizing this, Intel went to content marketing:
"Numerous committees were created to work out the details. New sales aids were created to reflect a system, rather than a product, viewpoint.  System-level benchmarks were prepared; technical articles written; existing customers were concvinced to write their own articles; new data sheets were prepared, as was--remarkably given the short time window--a completely new product catalog [Regis] McKenna devised a new advertising campaign.  Within the next few months, more than fifty customer seminars were presented throughout the world, as was a users' conference.  In each case, whatever didn't work was abandoned and something new tried."
Intel, born in the belief that superior technology would overcome any obstacle to succes, was now discovering the value of marketing and branding.  It would be a crucial lesson.
And later in 1991 Intel launched its most successful branding in its history: Intel Inside.

The Intel Trinity: How Robert Noyce, Gordon Moore, and Andy Grove Built the World's Most Important Company
The Intel Trinity: How Robert Noyce, Gordon Moore, and Andy Grove Built the World's Most Important Company
 4.  Conclusions

Read the book, The Intel Trinity: How Robert Noyce, Gordon Moore, and Andy Grove Built the World's Most Important Company.  To read this book is to understand the history of the Silicon Valley--the Schockley diode, the Traitorous Eight, the Fairchild and the Fairchildren. To read this book is to understand the story not only of Intel but also of its competitors and partners: AMD, Motorola, Zilog, IBM, Samsung, and Apple.  To read this book is to understand why business is war and how the microprocessor wars between US and Japan was fought.  This is a classic book.  Read it.

The Intel Trinity: How Robert Noyce, Gordon Moore, and Andy Grove Built the World's Most Important Company
The Intel Trinity: How Robert Noyce, Gordon Moore, and Andy Grove Built the World's Most Important Company
Secrets of Silicon Valley: What Everyone Else Can Learn from the Innovation Capital of the World
Secrets of Silicon Valley: What Everyone Else Can Learn from the Innovation Capital of the World
The Man Behind the Microchip: Robert Noyce and the Invention of Silicon Valley
The Man Behind the Microchip: Robert Noyce and the Invention of Silicon Valley
The Chip : How Two Americans Invented the Microchip and Launched a Revolution
The Chip : How Two Americans Invented the Microchip and Launched a Revolution
Geek Silicon Valley: The Inside Guide To Palo Alto, Stanford, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, San Jose, San Francisco
Geek Silicon Valley: The Inside Guide To Palo Alto, Stanford, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, San Jose, San Francisco
A History of Silicon Valley: The Greatest Creation of Wealth in the History of the Planet, 2nd Edition
A History of Silicon Valley: The Greatest Creation of Wealth in the History of the Planet, 2nd Edition
High Output Management
High Output Management
Only the Paranoid Survive: How to Exploit the Crisis Points That Challenge Every Company
Only the Paranoid Survive: How to Exploit the Crisis Points That Challenge Every Company
Andy Grove: The Life and Times of an American Business Icon
Andy Grove: The Life and Times of an American Business Icon
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One-on-One Andy Grove
Inside Intel: Andy Grove and the Rise of the World's Most Powerful Chip Company
Inside Intel: Andy Grove and the Rise of the World's Most Powerful Chip Company
Intel CORE I7 Logo Stickers Badge for Laptop and Desktop Case -N