Editor's note: This op-ed originally ran on re/code.
Andy Grove, who passed away last week at the age of 79, was a giant in Silicon Valley. The former Intel CEO and chairman leaves a legacy that will continue to shape the world’s technology and inspire innovators for generations to come. It’s also a legacy that spoke volumes about the importance of technology policy.
Grove’s story began in Budapest, Hungary, where he survived Nazi occupation and escaped Soviet repression before immigrating to the United States. After graduating from City College of New York and University of California at Berkeley, he started his career at Fairchild Semiconductor Research Laboratory in California, and five years later, he was the first hire when his mentor left to start a new venture called Intel.
Grove’s story was only just beginning. Upon rising to the top of the company, he spearheaded Intel’s transition from memory chips to microprocessors, a move that created unprecedented growth opportunities for the company and one that paved the way for the personal computing era. It’s those chips that continue to power many of the world’s computers and servers — machines that the modern economy could not function without. Meanwhile, under his leadership, Intel blossomed into the global technology titan we have come to know today.
No doubt, it’s that backstory and those accomplishments in Silicon Valley that will forever define Grove’s legacy. However, what’s less discussed but no less important was the work he led and the issues he championed in Washington, D.C.
At a time when policymakers and technology leaders were mostly content to leave one another to their own devices, Grove understood the importance of government policy and recognized the need for more engagement between innovators and public officials. He spent more time than many realize in the nation’s capital, advocating for smart, forward-thinking legislative and regulatory policies that promote technology. He was relentless in sharing Silicon Valley’s story and helping government leaders understand the nuances of tech policy and what was possible through innovation.
In particular, Grove fought for strategic, high-skilled immigration reforms, more funding for federal research, and stronger enforcement of software antipiracy laws. He called for comprehensive, long-term initiatives that would help address the tech sector’s labor shortage, and insisted that we commit more resources to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education.
It’s impossible to overstate the significance of this work, just as it’s impossible to overstate Grove’s contributions to it. Our nation’s continued economic success will depend largely on a vibrant and innovative tech sector, which will in turn depend on public policies that encourage rather than impede innovation, entrepreneurship and free enterprise — something Grove understood all too well.
His work bridging the divide between Washington and Silicon Valley cannot — and will not — end with his passing. Continued progress on this front will require steadfast commitments from public and private sector leaders, and we at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are committed to picking up the torch that Grove helped light.
Through our Center for Advanced Technology and Innovation, we’re bringing together technology leaders and policymakers to continue these conversations, promote the role of technology and innovation in our economy, and advocate for rationale policy solutions that drive economic growth and accelerate job creation. Whether that’s helping tech companies enter new markets, pushing for legislative and regulatory policies that facilitate better access to talent and capital, or helping policymakers simply understand the implications of emerging technologies such as drones, autonomous vehicles and connected devices, we’re committed to ensuring that the voices of innovators like Grove continue to be heard in the nation’s capital.
As Grove was famous for writing in one of his celebrated books, “We all need to expose ourselves to the winds of change.” Never before have the changes occurring in Silicon Valley and Washington been more rapid and disruptive than they are today, and we will continue to see to it — as he did — that the two continue to work together.
Amanda Eversole is president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Center for Advanced Technology & Innovation. Reach her @techinnovation.