Many Corporations Refused to Finance Semiconductors

FairlchildSemiconductorEightFounders2013-03-08.jpg “Shown in 1960, the eight engineers who founded Fairchild Semiconductor and revolutionized world technology in “Silicon Valley,” an “American Experience” documentary, . . . .” Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT review quoted and cited below.

(p. C4) “Silicon Valley” is a deceptively grand title for the new “American Experience” documentary Tuesday night on PBS. “Fairchild Semiconductor” would be more accurate.
. . .
One startling image shows a handwritten list of the many corporations that declined to bankroll the eight pioneers before Fairchild Camera and Instrument said yes. If any of them had possessed more foresight, the silicon chip might have belonged to National Cash Register, Motorola, Philco, BorgWarner, Chrysler, General Mills or United Shoe.

For the full review, see:
MIKE HALE. “Men Who Took Silicon to Silicon Valley.” The New York Times (Tues., February 5, 2013): C4.
(Note: ellipses in caption, and in quoted passage, added.)
(Note: the online version of the review has the date February 4, 2013.)

The “Silicon Valley” program first aired on PBS on 2/5/13 and can be viewed at:
http://video.pbs.org/video/2332168287

“The Ante for Being in the Room” at Apple Was Brutal Honesty

The following passage is Steve Jobs speaking, as quoted by Walter Isaacson.

(p. 569) I don’t think I run roughshod over people, but if something sucks, I tell people to their face. It’s my job to be honest. I know what I’m talking about, and I usually turn out to be right. That’s the culture I tried to create. We are brutally honest with each other, and anyone can tell me they think I am full of shit and I can tell them the same. And we’ve had some rip-roaring arguments, where we are yelling at each other, and it’s some of the best times I’ve ever had. I feel totally comfortable saying “Ron, that store looks like shit” in front of everyone else. Or I might say “God, we really fucked up the engineering on this” in front of the person that’s responsible. That’s the ante for being in the room: You’ve got to be able to be super honest. Maybe there’s a better way, a gentlemen’s club where we all wear ties and speak in this Brahmin language and velvet codewords, but I don’t know that way, because I am middle class from California.

I was hard on people sometimes, probably harder than I needed to be. I remember the time when Reed was six years old, coming home, and I had just fired somebody that day, and I imagined what it was like (p. 570) for that person to tell his family and his young son that he had lost his job. It was hard. But somebody’s got to do it. I figured that it was always my job to make sure that the team was excellent, and if I didn’t do it, nobody was going to do it.

Source:
Isaacson, Walter. Steve Jobs. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2011.

Adolphus Busch Was First to Pasteurize Beer

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Source of book image: https://encrypted-tbn1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTAFP9Hrx5IMUu1VH2WgoGcF43prrX2QiZx1J770DEx8BcGm55p1g

(p. C9) The first King of Beers was a German immigrant who came to America just before the Civil War. Adolphus Busch set down roots in heavily Germanic St. Louis, used an inheritance to buy a brewery-supply business and married into the Anheuser family, which owned a struggling brewery of its own. Installed as president of the family business (re-christened Anheuser-Busch), Adolphus purchased a beer recipe–you have to love this–used by monks in a Bohemian village named Budweis. The crisp, pale lager was known as Budweiser.
. . .
Adolphus certainly knew how to sell beer. He was the first American brewer to pasteurize his product, meaning that he could store it longer and ship it greater distances. He bought his own rail-car company and glass bottler; in the age of trusts he was a one-man conglomerate. Anticipating the family taste for luxury, Adolphus maintained baronial mansions in St. Louis, Cooperstown, N.Y., and Pasadena, Calif. His style was grand or, as Mr. Knoedelseder puts it, “over-the-top gauche.”

For the full review, see:
Roger Lowenstein. “BOOKSHELF; Fall of the House of Busch.” The Wall Street Journal (Sat., December 1, 2012): C9.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the review has the date November 30, 2012.)

Book under review:
Knoedelseder, William. Bitter Brew: The Rise and Fall of Anheuser-Busch and America’s Kings of Beer. New York: HarperBusiness, 2012.

Unemployment Increases Risk of Heart Attack

As a defender of the process of innovation through creative destruction, I try to be alert to evidence on creative destruction’s benefits and costs. The highest cost is usually viewed as technological unemployment. The evidence below will have to be examined and, if sound, added to the costs.

(p. D6) Unemployment increases the risk of heart attack, a new study reports, and repeated job loss raises the odds still more.
. . .
After adjusting for well-established heart attack risks — age, sex, smoking, income, hypertension, cholesterol screening, exercise, depression, diabetes and others — the researchers found that being unemployed also increased the risk of a heart attack, by an average of 35 percent.

For the full story, see:
NICHOLAS BAKALAR. “Job Loss Raises Threat of Heart Attack.” The New York Times (Tues., November 27, 2012): D6.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date November 26, 2012.)

The Dupre article mentioned above, is:
Dupre, Matthew E., Linda K. George, Guangya Liu, and Eric D. Peterson. “The Cumulative Effect of Unemployment on Risks for Acute Myocardial Infarction.” Archives of Internal Medicine 172, no. 22 (Dec. 10, 2012): 1731-37.
(Note: the Archives of Internal Medicine has been re-named JAMA Internal Medicine.)

Many New Tech Entrepreneurs Shun “Fast Cars and Fancy Parties”

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“Phil Libin, chief of Evernote, at its headquarters in Redwood City, Calif.” Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.

(p. B1) SAN FRANCISCO — The number of privately held Silicon Valley start-ups that are worth more than $1 billion shocks even the executives running those companies.

“I thought we were special,” said Phil Libin, chief executive of Evernote, an online consumer service for storing clippings, photos and bits of information as he counted his $1 billion-plus peers.
He started Evernote in 2008 on the eve of the recession and built it methodically. “A lot of us didn’t set out to have a big valuation, we’re just trying to build something that lasts,” Mr. Libin said. “There is no safe industry anymore, even here.”
. . .
(p. B2) Silicon Valley entrepreneurs contend that the price spiral is not a sign of another tech bubble. The high prices are reasonable, they say, because innovations like smartphones and cloud computing will remake a technology industry that is already worth hundreds of billions of dollars.
. . .
The founders of the highly valued companies are old enough to remember past busts, and many shun the bubble lifestyle of fast cars and fancy parties.
Mr. Libin, who said he grew up on food stamps as the son of Russian immigrants in the Bronx, became a millionaire when he sold his first company, Engine5, to Vignette in 2000.
“The company I sold to, there were purple Lamborghinis in the garage. I got into watches,” he said. “Maybe a half-dozen, nothing over $10,000, but I needed this glass and leather watch winder.”
Evernote started as the financial crisis hit. “One night I was almost busted again,” he said, “and there was that watch winder on the shelf, mocking me.”
“Every job out there is insecure now,” he said. “People sell 10 percent of their stock, and they have an incentive to make the other 90 percent worth more. They are still working, but not worrying about what will happen to their home or their kids.”

For the full story, see:
QUENTIN HARDY. “A Billion-Dollar Club, and Not So Exclusive.” The New York Times (Weds., February 5, 2013): B1 & B2.
(Note: the online version of the story has the date February 4, 2013.)

Real Entrepreneurs Do Not Launch a Startup in Order to Cash In and Move On

The following passage is Steve Jobs speaking, as quoted by Walter Isaacson.
I agree with the part about real entrepreneurs not going public quick in order to cash in. But I disagree that the real entrepreneurs are mainly interested in building a lasting company. I think that often they are mainly interested in getting a project, or a series of projects, done (and done reasonably well). Recall that when Walt Disney couldn’t convince Roy Disney to pursue the Disneyland project, Walt left the main Disney company to pursue the project through a secondary rump Disney company.

(p. 569) I hate it when people call themselves “entrepreneurs” when what they’re really trying to do is launch a startup and then sell or go public, so they can cash in and move on. They’re unwilling to do the work it takes to build a real company, which is the hardest work in business. That’s how you really make a contribution and add to the legacy of those who went before. You build a company that will still stand for something a generation or two from now. That’s what Walt Disney did, and Hewlett and Packard, and the people who built Intel. They created a company to last, not just to make money. That’s what I want Apple to be.

Source:
Isaacson, Walter. Steve Jobs. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2011.

Much of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” Was Funded Out of Producer’s Own Pocket

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Source of book image: http://www.awn.com/files/imagepicker/23/artofpeanuts-cover-620.jpg

(p. C10) Of all the “Peanuts” television specials ever made, the first–“A Charlie Brown Christmas” (1965)–was the Charlie Browniest. The 25-minute special was an underdog, just like its hapless protagonist, and barely made it on the air. CBS gave producer Lee Mendelson so minuscule a budget, we learn in Charles Solomon’s “The Art and Making of Peanuts Animation,” that he was forced to fund the rest out of his own pocket–even though Coca-Cola had already guaranteed sponsorship. When “A Charlie Brown Christmas” pulled in sensational ratings, CBS grudgingly asked for follow-ups. “We’re going to order four more,” a network executive told Mr. Mendelson, “though my aunt in New Jersey didn’t like it either”–a line that Schulz might have written.
. . .
“A Charlie Brown Christmas” established the template, mixing morals and gags in a way that made the peachiness seem endearing. The perfectly pitched dialogue, written by Schulz himself, was voiced (at his insistence) by actual children. The expressionist use of line and color was introduced by director Bill Melendez, and the understated yet supremely catchy Latin jazz scores were the work of pianist-composer Vince Guaraldi and his combo. The tune Guaraldi called “Linus and Lucy” came to be synonymous with “Peanuts” for the generations that grew up on the specials.
While the movements of the characters–especially Snoopy–could be antic, Guaraldi’s scores set a cool counterpoint and provided a sense of serenity that was utterly unique. The characters weren’t always moving–sometimes they would stop and simply listen to each other–and Schulz insisted that there be no laugh track. He made the climax of the drama Linus walking to the center of the school stage to recite from the gospel of Luke–a decision daring even in its day, not least because it stopped the action for an extended period to show a hand-drawn character delivering a lisping speech.

For the full review, see:
WILL FRIEDWALD. “BOOKSHELF; Cheers for Chuck.” The Wall Street Journal (Sat., December 22, 2012): C10.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the review has the date December 21, 2012.)

Book under review:
Solomon, Charles. The Art and Making of Peanuts Animation: Celebrating Fifty Years of Television Specials. San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books, 2012.