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Finance man takes the helm at Intel after Krzanich ‘resignation’

Intel CEO

After Brian Krzanich handed in his notice of resignation, Intel has announced Bob Swan will step out of the accountants office and will lead the company as Interim CEO.

An ongoing investigation by internal and external counsel has confirmed a violation of Intel’s non-fraternization policy, after it emerged Krzanich had a past consensual relationship with an Intel employee, though details on the saga are relatively thin for the moment. The search for the next CEO is underway, though with the 5G dawn beginning to emerge, appointing the right person to head the technology ambitions of the company is critical.

“The board believes strongly in Intel’s strategy and we are confident in Bob Swan’s ability to lead the company as we conduct a robust search for our next CEO,” Intel said in a statement. “Bob has been instrumental to the development and execution of Intel’s strategy, and we know the company will continue to smoothly execute. We appreciate Brian’s many contributions to Intel.”

What this means for the business is anyone’s guess, with future fortunes riding on the appointment of the next permanent CEO. Under Krzanich’s leadership, Intel’s share price has risen roughly 160%, while revenues have grown from roughly $52.7 billion across 2013 to $62.7 billion in 2017. The growing influence of cloud on the technology world could be seen as one of the accelerators to Intel’s success, it still is the leader in the market with its data-centre focused unit, though the importance of having an engineer in charge should not be overlooked. Despite challengers Intel is the leader in the data-centre market, it is now making positive moves with artificial intelligence and also more long-term bets such as autonomous vehicles.

Krzanich joined the business as a Process Engineer at Intel’s chip factory in New Mexico in 1982, before supervising assembly and testing facilities, and holding management roles within Intel’s manufacturing division. Krzanich progressed to become COO, leading Intel’s China strategy, before being appointed CEO in 2013. His experience is largely focused on engineering, research and operations, which we believe says a lot about Intel’s success over the last few years.

The culture of a business, as well as the operational progress is defined by senior managers. Krzanich is from an engineering and operational background, while under his leadership, Intel has positioned itself as a leader in the 5G race. By way of comparison, Apple in recent years has looked considerably less innovative and more like a well-oiled machine since the death of Steve Jobs and the appointment of supply-chain guru Tim Cook. BT is another example with Gavin Patterson, a marketer who lead the business down the ‘bells and whistles’ route of content and value adds as opposed to creating an excellent customer experience with investments into the network.

There is not necessarily a right or a wrong way to go about defining the leadership and culture of a business, but it has to be relevant to the ambitions of the company. Intel wants to position itself as a leader in the 5G world, therefore ambitions should be geared towards R&D, as well as collaborating with the best and brightest in the technology industry. There is still a lot of work to be done on the technology side of 5G, therefore the next appointment should be cut from the same cloth as Krzanich, someone who will want to spend money on R&D and building the best technology on offer.

Finance man Swan is a perfectly adequate appointment for the moment, he knows and would have helped build the Intel strategy, but a new CEO needs to be found sooner rather than later. And it needs to be someone from a technology background who can further the Intel roadmap to ensure the technology doesn’t fall into the realms of mediocrity; penny pinching and operational efficiency should not be top priorities right now.

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