Stanford's president, one of the most influential people in Silicon Valley, is stepping down

Stanford’s president John Hennessy is stepping down in summer 2016, the University just announced.

Normally, a university president stepping down isn’t a big deal in the world of business.

But Hennessy is one of the most influential people in Silicon Valley, a quiet power broker with lots of connections. He invented an early microchip architecture. He’s on the board of directors at tech giants Google and Cisco. When President Obama came to town to raise money in 2012, Hennessy was right there at the exclusive private tech industry dinner alongside Steve Jobs, Larry Ellison, and Mark Zuckerberg.

Stanford is right in the physical heart of the valley, but it’s also at the heart of the tech industry.

The best students in the field are being offered as much as $US500,000 to take jobs at big name tech companies. Some of the tech industry’s biggest and most successful companies, like Google and Yahoo, were started by students while they were still at Stanford. It’s famous for its classes on entrepreneurship taught by successful investors like Peter Thiel.

A lot of that is to Hennessy’s credit. As Stanford put it in the announcement of his stepping down, “Hennessy, a pioneering computer scientist who founded technology companies, advocated as president for constructive relationships between universities and industry in order to more rapidly bring academic discoveries to the public.”

Hennessy has been the president there since 2000, and was previously the dean of the school of engineering, and chair of the computer science department. He’ll go back into teaching and research. The school will search for new president during the next academic year.

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