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Therese Poletti’s Tech Tales: Burning Cypress: Ousted CEO wages bruising battle with company he built

T.J. Rodgers came to Silicon Valley in the 1970s as a graduate student at Stanford University, when the last fruit orchards were still battling with young semiconductor companies for space. Rodgers eventually founded Cypress Semiconductor Corp. CY, -1.72% based on his own chip invention, and became an outspoken but respected leader in the industry, known for combative stances that have ranged from protecting U.S. technology to fighting with shareholder nuns on diversity.

But after more than three decades in charge of the company, Rodgers was asked to leave in 2016. He did so without a fight, but not for long; he has now turned activist investor, a role that as CEO he often disdained, in a vicious and public battle that involves mudslinging on both sides, a fraught shareholder vote and a chairman who became the American face of China’s ambitions to buy into the chip industry.

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