Silicon Valley’s Original Sin: The Traitorous Eight by Sam Gerstenzang

Title - “Silicon Valley’s Original Sin: The Traitorous Eight”

Author - Sam Gerstenzang,

TL;DR - The decision by the “traitorous eight” to leave Shockley Semiconductor laid the groundwork for Silicon Valley not only through the new firms they founded, but also through the precedent of fluid employment that they set.

Helpfulness - 4

Tags - notable investors, early vc, traitorous eight

Questions addressed:

  • Who were the “traitorous eight”?
  • What impact did they have on Silicon Valley and venture capital?


  • The so-called “traitorous eight” left Shockley Semiconductor to form their own company (Fairchild Semiconductor) before starting various ventures of their own.
  • These firms laid the groundwork for Silicon Valley, as well as the VC industry:
    • Eugene Kleiner → Kleiner Perkins.
    • Gordon Moore, Robert Noyce → Intel.
    • Don Valentine → Sequoia Capital.
  • The legal and cultural lack of barriers to switching employment has benefitted Silicon Valley through the spread of ideas and ease of talent allocation ever since.

Follow up links: