SAN FRANCISCODan Ray, co-founder of Level One Communications Inc., has died. He was 50.
Ray died Sunday (Jan. 10) after suffering a heart attack, according to Bob Pepper, Level One's former CEO and a longtime colleague of Ray's. Pepper praised Ray as creative, hard-working and generous. He described Ray as an early leader in communications ICs who never lost interest in the engineering nuts and bolts, even after advancing to upper management.
Pepper also praised Ray as a person who never gave up. "I can assure you that Dan didn't understand the meaning or even how to spell the word quit. He never quit," Pepper said.
Ray, then in his mid-20s, co-founded Level One in 1985 and was the key architect of most of Level One's revenue producing products. The Sacramento, Calif.-based firm grew into a major network SoC vendor that was in 1999 acquired by Intel Corp. in a stock swap transaction valued at $2.2 billion.
Following the acquisition, Ray became an Intel Fellow. He later became a venture partner at Jatotech Ventures, a venture capital firm.
Ray held eight patents in the areas of communications systems architecture and high speed mixed signal CMOS circuit design. He was actively involved in the creation of several IEEE communications standards, including gigabit Ethernet.
A funeral for Ray is set for Thursday in the Austin, Texas, area, where he lived.
Pepper and Loralee Spence, a former Level One employee, said they last saw Ray recently at a reunion celebrating the 10th anniversary of the firm's acquisition by Intel. Both said he looked to be "the picture of health." Pepper said he later learned that Ray was under a doctor's care for a heart valve problem.
"It was such a shock to hear this dreadful news," Spence said. "Dan will definitely be missed."
Pepper called the loss "a tragedy" and said Ray would be missed by all. "I can't imagine anyone that didn't love Dan Ray," he said.