Eugene Kleiner

Obituary
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KLEINER-Eugene. Died November 20, 2003 in Los Altos Hills, California, at the age of 80. He was predeceased by his loving and beloved wife of 54 years, Rose Kleiner (2001). He is survived by his children Robert Kleiner and Lisa Kleiner Chanoff, grandchildren Jake Kleiner and Yael, Talia and Eli Chanoff. Eugene was one of the founding fathers of Silicon Valley, a journey that began with the German occupation of his birthplace Vienna in 1938, forcing his family to escape through France, Belgium and Portugal, and finally find passage to the United States where they settled in New York in 1941. At the end of World War II after serving in the United States Army, Eugene took advantage of the GI Bill and earned a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Polytechnic University, New York, and a Master's of Industrial Engineering from New York University. In 1947 he was married to Rose Wassertheil, who had escaped the German invasion of Poland in 1939. In 1952 his son Robert was born, and four years later the family moved to California after Nobel Prize winner William Shockley recruited Eugene from Western Electric to join him and seven other scientists and engineers to start Shockley Laboratories in Palo Alto. In 1957, these eight men, who became known as the ``Fairchild Eight'', broke away from Shockley and founded Fairchild Semiconductor; the first successful company to manufacture the silicon based transistor. This effort spawned the industry which would eventually transform Santa Clara Valley into the Silicon Valley and was the basis for all of today's information technology. In 1959 his daughter Lisa was born, and two years later the family moved to a new house that they built in Los Altos Hills, in which Eugene and Rose would live for the rest of their lives. In 1962, he left Fairchild to start ventures of his own including Edex Teaching Machines which was bought by Raytheon. As a limited partner with Davis & Rock, and a first round investor in Intel, Eugene began a new interest in venture capital. In 1972 he joined with Tom Perkins to form the partnership now known as Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers which has spawned over 300 companies including Compaq, Genentech, Tandem Computers, Sun, and Amazon. Since becoming ``Partner Emeritus'' at KPCB, Eugene served on numerous corporate boards, advisory committees, and college boards. In 1989 he received an Honorary Doctorate of Engineering from Polytechnic University where he had served as a Trustee. Eugene was inducted into the Silicon Valley Business Hall of Fame, and in 2000 was named Outstanding Mechanical Engineer of the Century by Polytechnic University. Throughout his career he was a respected mentor and advisor to many. He died in his home that he built 42 years ago on a hill overlooking Silicon Valley. Memorial services will be held at Congregation Beth Am, 26790 Arastradero Rd., Los Altos Hills at 1:00PM, Friday, December 5, 2003. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to Polytechnic University, 6 Metrotech Center, Brooklyn, NY 11201, Attn: Richard Thorsen.
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Published in The New York Times on Nov. 25, 2003