The End of the Line

The End of the Line


As Originally Published in Inc. Magazine

The End of the Line
One company, plagued by competition of ex-employees, built a technical-information library and lost that, too.
From: Inc., Feb 1989 | By: Hal Plotkin


Poor old Fairchild Semiconductor Corp. For much of its life, it was plagued by ex-employees who kept going out and starting their own companies, often in competition with their progenitor. Today the list of Fairchild descendants reads like a corporate Who’s Who of Silicon Valley: Intel, Advanced Micro Devices, LSI Logic, Performance Semiconductor, and on and on.

Fairchild generally responded to the challenges of its wayward children by going to court — a losing strategy. But along the way, it did manage to build a first-rate technical-information library for use in its lawsuits and for other research. That asset allowed Fairchild to heave one more entrepreneurial gasp just prior to its acquisition in 1987 by yet another of its descendants, National Semiconductor Corp. In January 1988 two Fairchild veterans, A. J. Ley and Sandra Crabtree, negotiated a leveraged buyout of the library, around which they proceeded to form a new company, Lucid Information Services Inc.

Like the earlier spin-offs, Lucid seems to be doing quite well. Its Fairchild files include back copies of more than 680 journals, conference proceedings, symposia, reports, and theses, and it has buttressed these with current subscriptions to some 480 journals. It has already worked with more than 50 companies, including Unisys, Raychem, Control Data, and Schlumberger, the company that sold Fairchild to National.

Meanwhile, there’s been nary a peep from Fairchild lately — which may mean that the Great Mother of Silicon Valley start-ups has given birth to her last child.

About the Author /

My published work since 1985 has focused mostly on public policy, technology, science, education and business. I’ve written more than 600 articles for a variety of magazines, journals and newspapers on these often interrelated subjects. The topics I have covered include analysis of progressive approaches to higher education, entrepreneurial trends, e-learning strategies, business management, open source software, alternative energy research and development, voting technologies, streaming media platforms, online electioneering, biotech research, patent and tax law reform, federal nanotechnology policies and tech stocks.