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Why the Maxim Story Needed to be Told

While this book, “Maximum Impact,” tells the tale of a great semiconductor company, its founding CEO and his larger-than-life personality has inevitably taken center stage within many of its pages. The adventures of Jack and Maxim’s other founders also embody business lessons and a legacy that should be memorialized for the sake of those who carry the torch of progress forward.

Those that know Maxim’s history use phrases like, one of “the most prolific,” “successful,” and “profitable” analog chip makers, “a legend” that is “among the tech companies that have made a great industry impact.” In this technological era, evidenced by a dramatically burgeoning Silicon Valley, ingenuity has become the measure above all others. And it’s here that Maxim, especially during its first 10 to 15 years, stood head and shoulders above its tech rivals. In its heyday, Maxim was an ingenuity machine, pumping out hundreds of new products every year. In the early 2000s, it introduced a record 500+ new products in a single year—that is two new products on average every business day!

But more important than its history of success, the company founding is just a fun, engaging story, one I was confident readers would enjoy, and learn from.

When I proposed to Jack, in 2006, the commissioning of a book about the amazing rise of the company, he summarily rejected my proposal. “Only leaders with big egos write such books,” he stated in true, brusque Gifford fashion.

However, recently, I realized that three of the original founders, including Jack, have now, unfortunately, passed away. During the writing of this book we also lost Fred Beck, arguably the founders’ founder for Maxim. That phrase, as applied to Fred Beck, will make sense as you read on. I felt like the story was destined to fade, along with memories, and soon to be forgotten beneath the sands of time. This would be a shame.

I decided that the company and its founders had to be honored. The story needed to be told for the benefit of a new generation of employees, entrepreneurs, and company leaders. So, the writer and I decided to interview those still with us who have experienced and observed the Maxim journey. In “Maximum Impact,” we all tell the story of the company and its powerful impact on the industry. And to give you a window into the colorful characters that created this epic tale, told with the best recollections of all involved, we present the stories of the formative days of technology and Maxim.

This book is not intended to comprehensively document the era’s tech industry, nor the environment we call Silicon Valley. Nor is it intended to necessarily endorse or condone every behavior of the leadership team and company since the norms today are quite different than they were 25 plus years ago. Rather, I want to take you on a wild ride—with its charismatic CEO (the Maxim story’s main character), its crew of genius founders, and its employees—filled with the fun and history-making adventures that many say have made the company a quiet legend in the tech universe.

Click on the link if you’d like to read the original Maxim Business Plan, the three pages that started it all.

I also want to make clear that “Maximum Impact” contains my opinions and the opinions of those interviewed or quoted in the book, not the opinions of Maxim or its employees or directors.

In honor of Maxim’s founding CEO, all profits from this book will be donated to Jack Gifford’s favorite charity, East Palo Alto Tennis & Tutoring in East Palo Alto, California.
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