Founder and chairman of Al Shugart International, a venture-capital firm based in Santa Cruz, Calif.; and founder and former chairman of Seagate Technology
The only thing I can think of as my biggest mistake was not buying founders' shares of Intel when I had the chance.
I left IBM in 1969 to join Memorex. Jim Guzy, one of my colleagues, had bought stock in Intel through one of its founders, Bob Noyce. Guzy was also on the Intel board. He told me that one of the founders wanted to sell some founders' stock, and was I interested?
I said no.
Of course, it didn't really matter whether the founder's price was 10¢ or $1 or $10, because I didn't have any money anyway. Let's just say I had what I'll call a lack of balance between my expenses and my income. I had separated from my first wife at the time, and I was supporting her and a couple of kids. I liked to have a good time -- which costs a lot of money -- and I refused to give that up. So I couldn't buy that stock in Intel.
Looking back, I should have gone out and borrowed some money. Of course, then I would have worried about it for 10 years, and I don't like to worry.
Some people might say that my biggest mistake was something I did at Seagate, because I was fired by the board there. I really can't talk about that, but I don't have any regrets. It was two years ago, and I still feel sorry for the employees I left behind. But one of my good friends called me when I got fired and said, "Al, Seagate did you a big favor. You'll have so much more fun not being there." And I am having more fun today. That was really a neat call to get. --Written with Mike Hofman