Andy Bechtolsheim

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search
Andy Bechtolsheim

Andy Bechtolsheim
Born September 30, 1955 (1955-09-30) (age 53)
Occupation Co-Founder Sun Microsystems

Andreas (Andy) von Bechtolsheim (born September 30, 1955) is a computer scientist who co-founded Sun Microsystems in 1982, along with Vinod Khosla, Bill Joy, and Scott McNealy.


[edit] Early life

Bechtolsheim was born on a farm near lake Ammersee, Germany. He received his master's degree in electrical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University in 1976 and was a PhD student in EE/CS at Stanford University from 1977 to 1982.

[edit] Career

[edit] Founding Sun

At Stanford University, Bechtolsheim had devised a powerful computer (which he called a workstation) with built-in networking running the Unix operating system. He developed the workstation because he was sick of waiting for computer time on the central University system.

Khosla approached him, wanting to build a business around selling the workstation. He also approached McNealy who was at another company after having completed his MBA at Stanford Business School in 1980.

They named the company Sun, derived from "Stanford University Network." Bechtolsheim left Stanford, where he was enrolled in a Ph.D. program, to found the company.

Sun Microsystems quickly became a success, with $1 billion in sales by 1988. By 2003, the market capitalization of Sun Microsystems was $11.5 billion.

[edit] Other companies

He left Sun in 1995 to found Granite Systems, a company focused on developing high-speed network switches. In 1996, Cisco Systems acquired the firm for $220 million, with Bechtolsheim owning 60%.[1] He became Vice President and general manager of Cisco's Gigabit Systems Business Unit, until leaving the company in December 2003 to head Kealia, Inc.

Bechtolsheim founded Kealia in early 2001 with David Cheriton, who was also a partner in Granite Systems, to work on advanced server technologies. In February 2004, Sun Microsystems announced it was acquiring Kealia in a stock swap. Due to the acquisition, Bechtolsheim returned to Sun again as senior vice president and chief architect.[2]

Bechtolsheim and Cheriton were two of the first investors in Google, investing $100,000 in 1998. Bechtolsheim reportedly wrote the check to "Google Inc" prior to the company even being founded. The story that says Bechtolsheim coined the name "Google" is untrue. However, when he gave the check to Lawrence E. Page and Sergey Brin, Google's founders, they did not yet even have a checking account into which the check could be deposited.[3]

Bechtolsheim seeded many companies in this fashion, including OnFiber Communications, the industry leader in metro transport for large enterprises (acquired by Qwest in 2006) and Wildblue Communications Inc. the Greenwood Village, Colorado based provider of satellite broadband internet services to homes and businesses in communities where terrestrial broadband access is either limited or unavailable, which began operating in June 2005.

As a result of shrewd investments like these, Bechtolsheim is increasingly being seen as the most successful "angel investor", particularly in areas such as electronic design automation (EDA), which refers to the software used by people designing computer chips. He has made a number of successful investments in EDA. He argues that changes in the chips themselves are outpacing the development of EDA tools, creating what he sees as an opportunity. It was his interest in these design tools while at Stanford which prompted his frustration when waiting for access to mainframes which led to his development of the first workstation.

One such EDA company, Magma Design Automation Inc., has been tremendously profitable for Bechtolsheim, with his stake in the company being valued around $60 million. The most profitable for Bechtolsheim was his initial $100,000 investment in Google, which in March 2007 was worth approximately US$1.5 billion.[4]

Bechtolsheim recently invested in yet another company. He has joined George T. Haber, a former colleague at Sun Microsystems, to invest in Los Altos wireless chip company CrestaTech The company develops very Low Power RF chips. Andreas was an investor in all of Haber's previous startups 1) CompCore sold to Zoran for $70M 2) GigaPixel sold to 3Dfx for $187M and 3) Mobilygen.

Along with David Cheriton, in 2005 Bechtolsheim launched another high speed networking company, Arastra. Arastra later changed its name to Arista Networks. Bechtolsheim left Sun Microsystems to become the Chairman and Chief Development Officer of Arista in October, 2008, but states he will still be associated with Sun in an advisory role.

Bechtolsheim is a founding member of Carnegie Mellon University's West Coast campus in Mountain View, California.

[edit] References

[edit] External links

Personal tools