D John Carey
John Carey a founder and senior executive at Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) and later chief executive officer of Integrated Devices Technology (IDT) – two semiconductor companies – never owned a computer, a cell phone or had an email address. John died on Oct. 19 at the age of 81 from a stroke.
John was born in Liverpool, England, the only child of Jack and Winnie Carey. Following graduation from the University of Liverpool with a degree in electrical engineering, he worked for an English technology company in the emerging field of transistors. He knew that this pioneering work was being done in California, but he didn’t have the required $1,000 to be allowed to immigrate to the US. In 1959, with all of his belongings in one suitcase he sailed to Montreal, Canada. Four years later, driving his 1962 Volvo, he moved to California to join Fairchild Semiconductor. John owned many fine cars in his lifetime, but this Volvo remained his favorite daily driver throughout his life.
In 1968, after five years at Fairchild, he and seven others formed AMD. In his decade at AMD, John was responsible for operations and manufacturing. “He had a brilliant, inquisitive and intuitive mind,” remembers John Mick, who worked with John both at AMD and IDT. Rich Previte, AMD’s original finance officer who later would become the firm’s president, remembers John “as well read, thoughtful, capable in many subjects and charming in a British way.” Tony Holbrook, hired by John in 1973, who also would become president of AMD had “great admiration for John … he was a good person, very firm handed and of the highest integrity. He was a demanding boss and managed by walking around and asking questions”.
Len Perham remembers John joining IDT. In 1980; first as an investor and board member and then later as CEO. John took the company public on Nasdaq in 1984 and became Chairman of the Board in 1991. When he left IDT in 2000 the company had revenues of almost $1 billion and 5,000 employees. IDT was an underfunded start up with a near $0.00 value and by the time John retired, the company traded on the public market with a valuation of over $10 billion. Len recalls that "he was tireless, smart, inquisitive, focused, insightful and decisive. He was one of my great friends."
After a short-lived retirement, John invested in Wolfson Microelectronics of Scotland and served as their chairman from 2000 to 2008. The company went public on the London Stock Exchange and years later sold to Cirrus Logic. He continued to invest in and mentor start-up semiconductor companies for several years after that.
John was a keen pilot and it was flying that brought him to McCall, Idaho, in 1980 while exploring the area’s backcountry. He bought property in the area and it became a second home for his family. John had a vision to create a small, pedestrian downtown area and in 1995 he bought the Hotel McCall and adjacent historical buildings. After nearly 20 years enjoying his beloved ranch outside of McCall and walking it with his dogs, he wanted to open the property for others to enjoy. He developed Jug Mountain Ranch, a residential community with a championship golf course and extensive trail system. It is now a thriving neighborhood that embraces the wider community and allows access to the land that he loved so much.
He was a smart, dynamic man who leaves behind a wonderful legacy. He was passionate about creating businesses and working with others. He had endless curiosity and drive, a strong sense of self, quiet generosity and a genuine interest in others no matter who they were. He was a true individual who lived a full, fascinating life far from his humble beginnings in the North of England. He will never be forgotten and will be greatly missed by his wife Terry, his children and grandchildren. A celebration of life will be held in the Spring.
Donations in his memory to McCall Donnelly Education Foundation www.mdef.org.