About

Ray Zinn, author of Tough Things First

Raymond D. “Ray” Zinn is an inventor, entrepreneur, and the longest serving CEO of a publicly traded company in Silicon Valley.

Zinn is known best for conceptualizing and in effect inventing the Wafer Stepper, and for co-founding semiconductor company Micrel (acquired by Microchip in 2015), which provides essential components for smartphones, consumer electronics and enterprise networks. He has served as Chief Executive Officer, Chairman of its Board of Directors and President since the Company’s inception in 1978.

Zinn has led Micrel profitably through eight major downturns in global chip markets, an impressive achievement. Many chip companies weren’t able to make it through one downturn and very few have survived through all the major downturns. Micrel has been profitable from its very first year, aside from one year during the dot-com implosion.

Ray Zinn holds over 20 patents for semiconductor design. He has been mentioned in several books, including Jim Fixx’s The Complete Book of Running and Essentialism by Greg McKeown.

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RAY ZINN PRESS RELEASES

Tough Things First Ventures makes its first investment in OnRule, a cloud-based compliance management suite for the electronics manufacturing industry. OnRule follows the Tough Things First mantra, and is benefiting from the “mentor capital” provided by Ray Zinn. Read more >

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RAY ZINN IN THE NEWS

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Forbes reviews Ray Zinn’s book Tough Things First, finding it recommended reading and noting that “we can use his discipline as an example that can inspire us all.” Read more >

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Barron's

Ray Zinn mentioned in Barron’s on the topic of activist investors and why they are not compatible with tech companies. Activists are “more like robbers. They found out they could wreak havoc by taking over a company.” Read more >

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Investors.com

Ray Zinn in Investor’s Business Daily discusses what it takes to succeed in achieving anything you desire. “His expectations for conduct at Micrel included honesty, integrity, respect and doing whatever it takes to get the job done.” Read more >

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Groco CPAs and Advisors

Groco interviews Ray Zinn on the history of Micrel, why to not take venture capital, and some of the great lessons learned in running Micrel for 37 years. Watch interview >

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Ray Zinn interviewed at TheStreet.com, discussing five critical management tips for executives and entrepreneurs alike. Watch interview >

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Everyday Power

Jeffrey Moore distills the “list of 25 to 30 items” he learned from Ray Zinn into the most import six , those that Moore says “I will carry with me forever.” Read more >

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Anu Partha’s interview with Ray Zinn where they discuss his “unique and inspiring story” and explored “entrepreneur, his style of leadership, how he attracted and retained good people in a high-growth industry, and how he steadfastly adhered to his guiding principles and values to leave behind a legacy that others can only strive to emulate.” Read more >

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business superstar

“Business Superstar interviews Ray Zinn on entrepreneurialism, where tech is heading and is universities are making new business leaders. “My hope is not depleted. My visits to the various universities over the past few months revealed that they all have entrepreneurial programs. These universities report that the entrepreneurial spirit has never been higher.” Read more >

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School for Startups

Ray Zinn appeared on the School for Startups Radio broadcast, and discussed leadership personal discipline and how to succeed in life and business. Listen to interview >

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Ray Zinn describes how the recent expansion of the semiconductor industry has helped lead to its contraction at Embedded Design Computing. “I’ve seen this before, having founded Micrel 37 years ago and having been in the semiconductor industry for 50 years.” Read more >

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“This is an engaging and quite humorous book… it exudes positivity… a hard-hitting boot camp to help you recalibrate your way of business thinking and management, delivered in almost a homely fireside chat-type of way. This is not your typical business book for sure!” Read more >

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Founder's Guide

A great Q&A about startups, entrepreneurialism and turning ideas into action at the Founder’s Guide. Read more >

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Fortune Magazine

A profile of Ray Zinn in Fortune, detailing Zinn’s perspective on employee longevity, corporate loyalty and Silicon Valley. “In an industry where change is the norm and loyalty is the exception, Raymond Zinn’s four-decade tenure leading Micrel stands out.” Read more >

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Machine Design had a look at Tough Things First, calling it “a well-written book that is helpful to entrepreneurs, as well as to anyone else who seeks enduring success in business or in life.” Read more >

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SandHill.com logo

“This interview in SandHill.com’s leadership series profiles Ray Zinn, who founded semiconductor company Micrel in 1978 in Silicon Valley — without venture capital funding — and led it from startup days to a company with almost a quarter billion dollars annual revenue.” Read more >

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New York Post

The New York Post’s review of Ray Zinn’s tenure and success at the end of his service as the CEO of Micrel. “The 77-year-old Zinn, who co-founded the semiconductor manufacturer Micrel in 1978 as a two-man operation, has turned it into a multimillion-dollar company with a stock return exceeding 700 percent during his tenure.” Read more >

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The San Jose Mercury News’ recap of Ray Zinn’s contribution to Silicon Valley and executive leadership. “The semiconductor industry has been beaten and battered by consolidation, price-cutting and competition from Asia, but Zinn steered Micrel through the storm, finally relinquishing the captain’s seat this spring.” Read more >

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Embedded Computing Design logo

An audio Q&A with Ray Zinn and Embedded Computing Design. “I asked Ray how he was able to achieve that, through extremely turbulent times in our industry. We also discussed some of the hard lessons that Ray learned along the way, most of which still apply to today’s economies.” Listen to interview >

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HispanicMPR.com

A brief review of Tough Things First and a brief interview with Ray Zinn. “I wanted to synthesize my 37 years of running a high tech company, with the purpose of inspiring and helping the up-and-coming entrepreneur in running their businesses correctly.” Read more >

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ebay radio

Ray Zinn chats with the eBay Radio listeners about the entrepreneur’s life and how to find your vision. Read more >

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datanami

Ray Zinn pipes in on Datanami’s Top 33 Big Data Predictions for 2016, and how what IoT’s impact will be on the semiconductor business. “Design will become uniquely divorced from fabrication, splitting the market risk.” Read more >

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EE Times reports on Ray Zinn’s success at Micrel, in Silicon Valley, and what the future holds for providing mentor capital. “Ray Zinn’s remarkable 37-year tenure as chairman, president and CEO of analog chip vendor Micrel Inc. may be drawing to a close, but the 77-year old semiconductor industry pioneer sounds as though he has no intention of riding off into the sunset.” Read more >

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IT Business Times’ two-part series on Ray Zinn and the changing nature of Silicon Valley, the semiconductor industry and how CEOs deal with activist investor demands. “Zinn is the founder and now former CEO of Micrel, a company he bootstrapped 37 years ago, making him the longest-serving CEO of a publicly traded company in Silicon Valley. For Zinn, this was hardly just another semiconductor industry acquisition. It was the loss of a company he talks about like a loving parent.” Read part one > Read part two >

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Ray Zinn interviewed on Bloomberg Radio, discussing Tough Things First, Micrel’s no swearing policy, and the realm of entrepreneurialism. Listen to interview >

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Ray Zinn’s interview concerning semiconductors, the Internet of Things (IoT) and his book Tough Things First on the Peggy Smedley Show. Listen to interview >

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A glowing report on the history of Ray Zinn’s Micrel. “Micrel stands out as among one of the best managed companies. Mr. Zinn managed Micrel judiciously, minimizing unnecessary risk and business volatility, and optimizing profitability, cash generation, and return to shareholders. The company consistently remained shareholder friendly, returning significant cash through quarterly cash dividends and regular share repurchases.” Read more >

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Ray Zinn quoted in Machine Design on how to spot trends. Zinn discusses semiconductor business cycles, cloud design and the politics of on-shoring. Read more >

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Ray Zinn in a Q&A with the Business Process Incubator, answering questions on strategies for dealing with change, overcoming business challenges and ‘smart manufacturing’ Read more >

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