Will the high-tech world ever get away from Intel?
Probably not. The company supplies chips for around 80 percent of the world’s PCs and servers and heavily influences the standards for packaging, manufacturing, lithography and computer design.
But the company also plays a large, and often unseen role, in corporate management. Intel alumni are everywhere, and they take their aggressive obsessions with numbers, manufacturability, constructive confrontation (i.e., yelling at meetings; drinking afterward), scalability and "two-in-a-box" management wherever they go. Two of Silicon Valley’s most storied VCs, John Doerr and Bill Davidow, came from the Intel sales department. Chip companies like Rambus and National Semiconductor are run by ex-Intel guys. It’s like a finishing school for the hard-nosed.
And now, you’re seeing the Blue Shirts pop up in greentech. Paul Misso, CEO of small wind turbine specialist Marquiss Wind Power came out of the Folsom offices of Intel. Ron Smith, who ran the wireless and flash memory units for Intel during the go-go late '90s, will soon come out of stealth with a startup that takes the heat produced by solar panels to power solar water heaters. Sub-One Technology, the anti-corrosion company working with Chevron Texaco? Run by Intel alum Andrew Tudhope.
GainSpan, a smart metering company that can control the power consumption of household appliances, is run by Vijay Parmar. The company grew out of a project he ran at the Intel labs.
Pete Van Deventer, who marketed chipsets out of Intel’s Folsom facilities, is the CEO of SynapSense, which monitors and controls power consumption in data centers with sensors and software. (Yahoo managed to cut its cooling power consumption by 21 percent in a Synapse-rigged datacenter.). The company plans to move into the market for building control.
Claude Leglise, the suave former head of Intel Capital, also has a company, say sources. It leases space on rooftops for solar installations.
Several Intel engineers have gone to work at OptiSolar, according to sources. And earlier this year, Intel spun out SpectraWatt while Intel Capital began to invest in alternative energy and energy efficiency companies.
And Andy Grove is going to teach a course on plug-in transportation at Stanford next year. The company itself is also involved in pretty much every green IT panel you can imagine.
Given the size of the company, it’s natural that you’d see Intel alums pop up. But Hewlett-Packard and IBM are big companies too and you don’t see those names popping up on executive CVs as much.
If you find yourself in a pitch meeting and the speaker uses eight three letter acronyms in five minutes, chances are you're listening to one of them. Don't say I didn't warn you.