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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Creating firms and an industry

[1985 Man of the Year]One of the major goals of our entrepreneurship program at San José State is to identify and re-establish ties with successful alumni entrepreneurs. We have a number of College of Business graduates who achieved success in low-tech startups, most notably Peter Ueberroth, Don Lucas, Gary Sbona and Mike Sinyard.

However, the most visible successes have come from our tech entrepreneurs. A few people know that Gordon Moore spent 2 years at SJSU (where he met his wife) before graduating from Cal, and then Caltech and going on to Shockley Labs, Fairchild and Intel. (Not to mention Moore’s Law).

In addition to semiconductors, two other SJSU alumni helped create the disk drive industry that made PCs possible.

Last April we had as a guest speaker serial entrepreneur Larry Boucher (who has an EE from Cal and both a BS and MBA from SJSU). He worked for Shugart Associates before founding Adaptec, Auspex and Alacritech. He was a technical pioneer that made both SCSI and NAS possible.

An even more compelling story is Finis Conner, who got a 1969 degree in industrial management. Conner founded three major disk drive companies: with Al Shugart, he co-founded both Shugart Associates (1973) and Seagate Technology (1979). Without Al, he created Conner Peripherals in 1986.

Very few people have created both firms and an industry the way that Shugart and Conner did. Certainly Moore and Andy Grove deserve credit for helping to create the semiconductor industry (and Intel), as the two Steves did with PCs and Apple Computer.

What is cool is when an entrepreneur can have success creating an industry, as well as technical success, business/shareholder success, and personal financial rewards. SJSU can be proud of its major successes here, even if they are far fewer than Stanford or Cal (let alone MIT).

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