Broadcom’s Disparate Co-Founders Built a $37B Behemoth

The Broadcom tale of the two Henrys is a study in contrasts: one man deliberate and reserved, the other anything but. Henry T. Nicholas III (above, left) and Henry Samueli (right) pounded the Irvine chip maker in 1991 and went on to become two of Southern California's best-known and richest entrepreneurs, giants in the tech industry.

When they hit it big, Samueli, the reserved Henry, bought a house in Corona del Mar, toys for his three kids and a Porsche Boxster for one of his employees, but kept his leased Cadillac.

Nicholas, the brash one, sprang for a Harley-Davidson, a red Ferrari, a black Lamborghini and, for longer trips, a Las Vegas charter aviation service with three jets and a helicopter. Home became a 15,000-square-foot mansion on a Laguna Hills estate with waterfalls, two pools, a big wine cellar and to-die-for views.

He made no apologies for his outsized lifestyle.

"I get what I want," Nicholas told a Times reporter in early 2000, "because I always want to win."

On Thursday, he and Samueli notched a huge win with the announced sale of Broadcom for $37 billion to rival chip maker Avago.

"Today, I'm like giddy," Nicholas said in a telephone interview. "I want to say this is the culmination of a life's work, but what we've really got now is a new point of departure. It's really exciting."

Born in Cincinnati, Nicholas, 55, moved to California in the mid-1960s, when his mother, a schoolteacher and administrator, divorced his father, an attorney. He graduated from Santa Monica High School in 1977 and enrolled at the U.S. Air Force Academy but left when he was deemed too tall at 6 feet 6 to fly fighter jets.

After earning an engineering degree at UCLA in the early 1980s, Nicholas worked at TRW in Redondo Beach, where he met Samueli, his...

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