Jerry Sanders (businessman)

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Walter Jeremiah Sanders III
Born (1936-09-12) September 12, 1936 (age 83)
Spouse(s)Tawny Sanders (1990–present)

Walter Jeremiah Sanders III (born September 12, 1936) is an American businessman and is a co-founder and was a long-time CEO of the American semiconductor manufacturer Advanced Micro Devices (AMD).

Early life and education[edit]

Jerry Sanders III grew up in the South Side of Chicago, Illinois, raised by his paternal grandparents.[1] He was once attacked and beaten by a street gang[2] leaving him so covered in blood[1] that a priest was called to administer the last rites.[3] He attended the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign on an academic scholarship from the Pullman railroad car company.[1] He graduated with his bachelor's degree in engineering in 1958.

After graduation, Sanders worked for the Douglas Aircraft Company. He subsequenly moved to Motorola, then to Fairchild Semiconductor.

Business career[edit]

In 1968 Sherman Fairchild brought a new management team into Fairchild Semiconductor, led by C. Lester Hogan, then vice president of Motorola Semiconductor. The staff from Motorola, also known as "Hogan's Heroes", were conservative and hence immediately clashed with Sanders' boisterous style.

In 1969 a group of Fairchild engineers decided to start a new company, which became Advanced Micro Devices (AMD). They asked Jerry Sanders to join them, and he said he would, provided he became the president of the company. Although it caused some dissension within the group, they agreed, and the company was founded with Sanders as President.

Every employee at the company got stock options, an innovation at the time.

Sanders gave the company a strong sales and marketing orientation, so that it was successful even though it was often behind its competitors in technology and manufacturing. He shared the success of the company with the employees, usually coincident with sales-oriented growth targets.

He steered the company through hard times as well. In 1974, a particularly bad recession almost broke the company. Through many difficult recessions he refused to lay off employees, a reaction to the rampant layoffs that had occurred at Fairchild earlier. Instead of reducing employees, he asked them to work Saturdays to get more done and get new products out sooner. There were also good times for the company. Sanders gave each one of his employees $100 as they walked out of the door during AMD's first $1M quarter. AMD was also the first US company to implement a cash profit-sharing employee compensation program, where employees would regularly get profit checks of $1,000 or more.

In 1982, he was responsible for a licensing deal with Intel that made AMD a second source to IBM for the Intel Microprocessor series, a deal that eventually made the company the only real competitor to Intel.[2]

In 2000, Sanders recruited Héctor Ruiz, at the time the president of Motorola's Semiconductor Products Sector, to serve as AMD's president and chief operating officer, and to become heir apparent to lead the company upon Sanders' retirement. Ruiz succeeded Sanders as CEO in 2002.

His maxim was "People first, products and profit will follow!" This was given as a printout for each AMD worker who started a job at AMD in Dresden until Sanders's retirement.

Personal life[edit]

Sanders has three children from his first marriage and one from his second.


  1. ^ a b c Paul Wood (March–April 2004). "The Diligent Dilettante". Illinois Alumni Magazine.
  2. ^ a b Mark Simon (October 4, 2001). "PROFILE- Jerry Sanders - Silicon Valley's tough guy". San Francisco Chronicle.
  3. ^ Michael Kanellos (April 24, 2002). "End of era as AMD's Sanders steps aside". CNET. Archived from the original on July 10, 2012.

External links[edit]

Business positions
Preceded by
Company founded
Succeeded by
Hector Ruiz