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Sorry About Your Uncle

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Over the past year, Intel has paid more than $2 billion in fines and settlements related to antitrust. I’m not a disinterested observer: I’m a PR person who defends the company in such matters to reporters. Knowing this, you might ask: How can you work for such a company? How can you sleep at night?

Indeed, conversations with friends and family on this topic elicit a mixture of raised eyebrows and sotto voce condolences. The words sound a bit like sympathy for a distant relative who’s met an interesting demise. “Your uncle was such a dear man,” they could be saying. “It’s too bad about the heart attack in the strip club.” The analogy is odd but, rest assured, when the topic of antitrust comes up, the conversations are short and strange.

What’s frustrating for me and others at Intel is that this distracts from what the company is all about. More than 40 years after its birth, Intel is still a role model for innovation, risk-taking, discipline and -- I know you may find this hard to believe -- having fun at work. You can see evidence of this in recent articles from the New York Times and EE Times

Intel has a legacy of this sort of thing:

- An Intel engineer, Federico Faggin, invented the most important technology of the last 50 years, according to New Scientist magazine

- Gordon Moore, one of Intel’s founders, postulated one of the most important maxims in modern technology

- One of Intel’s CEOs, Andy Grove, was a Time Magazine’s Man of The Year in 1997

I love working at Intel. I’ve been here 12 years and admire the company as much for its legacy of innovation and success as for the way it does business. I don’t just mouth the words; I really believe that Intel competes fairly and that the microprocessor market delivers more consumer benefit than just about any other market on earth. (The first part of that sentence will be decided in court, the second is fact.)

If my uncle had died under suspicious circumstances, I would probably be embarrassed. But when I’m asked about Intel, I’m not embarrassed at all. Truth be told, I feel pretty much the opposite.