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Fable

Fable: The Fall-Out

A team of engineers was once assembled to start a chip company. Heading it were a CEO, an exec vp and three vps. Within three years of founding the company, two of the vps, both of equal status, fell out. The crunch came over the data sheet for what was to become the company’s turning-point product – the chip which ...

Fable: The Persistent Idea

Thanks to SEPAM for suggesting this Fable. 25 years ago this year, three Japanese companies, inspired by an abandoned attempt by IBM, built a computer based on a technology which had been conceived 24 years before by a Brit who won the Nobel Prize for his idea. After three years, the three companies succeeded in building a working machine which ...

Fable: The Hubristic Huddle

16 years ago the world’s great electronics companies, like today, didn’t know what to do. So they huddled. Sony, Matsushita, AT&T , Motorola, Philips, Cable & Wireless, Northern Telecom, Toshiba, France Telecom, NTT, Oki, Sanyo, Mitsubishi, Fujitsu all got together to form a company to invent the future. What could go wrong? It worked on a new icon-based computer interface, ...

Fable: The Mayor Hits Town

The co-founder of Silicon Valley’s two most important chip companies made a memorable appearance at the welcome meeting for the new recruits to his first Valley job. He drove to Palo Alto from Salt Lake City, in the rain, in a car described as “a piece of crap” which had a disfunctional windscreen wiper. He arrived at 10pm, unshaven and ...

Fable: The Nice Way To Defect

There was once an Intel engineer who did the start-up thing the nice way – he bought a licence to the technology he wanted to use from Intel. Then, with one of the ‘Traitorous Eight’ he started a company whose name bore a hidden reference to the fact that it had emanated from Intel. The company set out to develop ...

Fable: The Bold Engineer

There was once an Intel engineer who quit the company to form a start-up based on a new kind of memory chip. Intel’s writ was delivered to his home in the middle of the night. Undaunted, the KP-backed company raised $50 million (plus another $18 million in an IPO). The engineer built a fab with a ski-lift type roof based ...

Fable: The Sapper

There was once a British Sapper who lit out to California to work for Fairchild and then became the first CEO of a start-up company working on an innovative chip idea which became a new semiconductor product category. He loved old cars and attended motoring events around the world where he could pick up old car parts and take them ...

Fable: The CEO Who Started Late

Silicon Valley start-ups are a young man’s game (unless you’re a VC) but one famous company founder started his first company at the ripe old age of 61. The company was based on an entirely new semiconductor product category which had been invented by a Zilog engineer while moonlighting at LSI Logic. He grew the company to over $1 billion ...

Fable: The Company Which Took Too Long

24 years ago a company set up to make a roll-up OLED screen. Two private equity firms, Hilman and Kelso, in vested $133 million. Intel and others put in VC money. Philips and Uniax bought licences. Twelve years after founding, in 2004, it had an IPO on the NASDAQ which valued the company at $230 million. But, three years later, ...

Fable: Monopolies

Today we are amazed that Apple takes 92% of the mobile phone industry’s profits but this scale of domination of an industry is not unprecedented. Back in the 1920s there was an industry, the lighting industry, which employed half a million people in the USA. The component on which this industry was built was the light bulb. In 1927, 95% ...