John Gifford, who founded analog chip maker Maxim Integrated Products and served as its chief executive until his retirement in 2007, passed away Sunday of an apparent heart attack, according to a company press release distributed Monday.
Gifford was born in 1941 and grew up in Los Angeles. After graduating from UCLA in 1963 with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, he worked for Fairchild Semiconductor, first in sales in L.A. and later in marketing in Silicon Valley.
An industry legend, Gifford was one of the many engineers who left Fairchild to start their own companies in the 1960s. Gifford helped co-found Advanced Micro Devices in 1969 and later became president of Intersil, which he left in 1983. Weeks later he founded Maxim, which became a public company in 1988.
”Jack founded Maxim with the firm belief that analog integrated circuits would prove to be a great growth market. He led our Company with steadfast determination for 24 years, grew it from the ground up to over $2B in sales” said Tunç Doluca, Maxim’s CEO, in a written statement.”His success provided returns for shareholders and income for over 10,000 employees and their families over his long tenure here. He was a strong leader with seemingly limitless energy and enthusiasm. His attention to detail and guiding management principles established the highly pragmatic culture at Maxim.”
Gifford left Maxim in 2007 on the advice of his doctor, citing declining health as he wrestled with federal investigations into the suspicious timing of stock options. He stayed on as a special strategic adviser.
”It’s caused by having more to do than you can do,” Maxim Vice President Charles Rigg told the Mercury News at the time. ”He basically took on two companies: Maxim, and the other was this backdating issue. It got to be more than he could handle. The things that came out of that is high blood pressure, a loss of weight, that sort of thing.”
A special committee of Maxim’s board later concluded the company had mishandled stock-option grants to employees and directors from 2000 to as late as 2006, even as stock-option backdating was exploding into national headlines. In connection with its investigation, Gifford agreed to step down as special adviser.
In December 2007, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed civil charges against Maxim’s former chief executive, Jack Gifford, and former Chief Financial Officer Carl Jasper, accusing them of rigging stock options for employees. Without admitting or denying the allegations, Gifford agreed to pay nearly $800,000 in a settlement.