Among the scores of fabless chip companies and product design houses in Silicon Valley, Intel is a standout. It's an American high-tech company that not only creates but builds some of the most sophisticated tech products in the world here. That contrasts with others, like Apple and Hewlett-Packard, that consign virtually all product manufacturing and assembly abroad.
Last week, I asked Intel co-founder Andy Grove how the chipmaker became one of the last, great high-tech manufacturing giants in the U.S. and why many Silicon Valley icons haven't done the same. Grove was Intel's chairman from May 1997 to May 2005 and served as chief executive from 1987 to 1998.
Intel's manufacturing strategy was underscored by a recent announcement to invest as much as $8 billion in new factories and facilities in the U.S. That's in addition to the roughly $34 billion it has already invested in its U.S. factories, including investment in a joint flash chip manufacturing venture with Micron Technology.
Grove says Intel has been making, or "fabbing," chips in the U.S. since its founding in 1968--for practical reasons, mind you. "That was not a result of us wanting to be patriotic. Operationally that was the most logical thing for us to do," he said, in a phone interview.
Why, historically, has it been practical for Intel? "The people doing the technology manufacturing were highly trained, highly disciplined staff. And there was a lot of desire to not start manufacturing operations willy-nilly all over the place," he said. … Read more