The Bad Managers That Fathered High-Tech

Is your boss a jerk? Mine is. I'm self-employed. The king of all bad bosses has got to be Fairchild Semiconductor.  It constantly drove bright, forward thinking tech pioneers out of the building. Their loss is all our gain. "Fairchildren" started Intel in 1968, for instance. And lots, lots more of the most important companies on earth.

In the 1980s, the folks at the Semiconductor Materials and Equipment International trade group assembled a flow chart that tracked "Fairchildren" who created spinoffs such as Advanced Micro Devices, LSI Logic and Electroglas. Perhaps the most important was the venture firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

A more recent parallel to the Fairchild diaspora is Netscape Communications, which was funded in part by Kleiner Perkins. While Fairchild helped inaugurate the era of the integrated circuit, Netscape ushered in the era of the World Wide Web.

Netscape had more than 5,000 employees when it was purchased by AOL in 1998 for $4.2 billion, but it went into a tailspin and was shut down in July 2003 by its eventual owner, Time Warner.

Netscape is the ones and zeros versions of Fairchild. "Netscapees" include Epinions, Friendster, Medicalogic, and of course, Mozilla.

So the next time your creepy boss peers into your cubicle and asks: "Did you see the memo?", remember there's a great big bright future out there for people who take their red Swingline and go home. The ones that don't starve to death, anyway.

Tags:  Tech, Red, bad, here, AG