|By Maureen O'Gara||
|November 20, 2012 08:15 AM EST||
Intel CEO and president Paul Otellini, 62, has apparently tired of beating back the dragons that periodically threaten to devour the company and has decided to retire early.
Intel CEOs have all previously stepped down when they were 65, when retirement is mandatory, with their designated replacement clear. This is not the case this time.
The board, reportedly surprised by his decision, asked him to hang around for six months while it searches for his successor and starts an "orderly" transition. He will leave in May, his anniversary.
When Otellini got the job seven-and-a-half years ago, AMD was eating its lunch in servers, having run off 25% of the market, and Intel was facing massive antitrust suits on both side of the pond. Otellini was forced to restructure the company, change its chip architecture, beat back AMD with its own truncheon and settle the AMD-inspired antitrust complaints.
As a result Intel, a manufacturing marvel now worth $50 billion a year, is clearly master of the high end, but is currently threatened by the industry's shift to mobile, where ARM is king, and where clouds may be potentially filled with ARM-based microservers, which is why Intel stock has stagnated.
Qualcomm is now deemed the most valuable semiconductor company.
Intel's third-quarter profits fell 14% on revenues down 5.5% and, what with PCs being cannibalized by tablets and smartphones, higher operating expenses and the state of the macroeconomy, even in emerging countries, it is scaling back production significantly this quarter.
In a statement Otellini said, "It's time to move on and transfer Intel's helm to a new generation of leadership. I look forward to working with Andy [Bryant, Intel's chairman], the board and the management team during the six-month transition period, and to being available as an advisor to management after retiring as CEO."
The board, which claims it will look inside and outside the company for a replacement - something it has never done before - has isolated an internal selection pool of three people all just promoted executive VP: Renee James, head of Intel's software business; Brian Krzanich, COO and head of worldwide manufacturing; and Stacy Smith, CFO and director of corporate strategy. All of them are Intel lifers, including James, the only woman in the bunch.
Although it would be almost unthinkable for Intel to recruit on the outside, the board is dominated by independent directors, an inheritance from Otellini's predecessor Craig Barrett.
Otellini is only the fifth CEO Intel has had in its 45-year history and the first non-engineer to get the job. It is a complex place and trusts its own. Otellini, for instance, has been there for 40 years.
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