(p. 222) Among the entrepreneurs of the microcosm, none were nimbler than Gordon Campbell, the former founder and president of SEEQ. Taking Phillip Salsbury and other non-volatile memory stars out of (p. 223) Intel in 1981, Campbell had begun meteorically. But after a few years, SEEQ’s E-square technology had slipped against Xicor and the industry went into its mid-eighties slump. While many experts bogged down in the problems of transition, however, Campbell seized the opportunities. In a new firm, he would demonstrate beyond cavil the new balance of power in electronics.
He left SEEQ in 1984 and at once steered his Ferrari back into the semiconductor fray. But few observers favored his prospects. If the truth be known, many semiconductor people thought they had already seen plenty of Gordon Campbell, company president.
Campbell is a complex man, with a rich fund of ego and a boyish look that belies his shrewd sense of strategy and technology. To a strong-minded venture capitalist such as Frank Caulfield of Kleiner, Perkins, Caulfield, & Byers–or even to a smooth operator such as John Doerr—Campbell appeared to be a pushover. A man with no money, no social ivy, no advanced professional degrees, no obvious scientific mastery, he was a disposable tool: some kid who had snuck into the E-square huddle at Intel and popped our into the end zone just in time to make a miracle catch of several million dollars in venture capital.
Gilder, George. Microcosm: The Quantum Revolution in Economics and Technology. Paperback ed. New York: Touchstone, 1990.