As the world’s largest chipmaker shifts its product line to win more business from mobile device makers, it is also shifting leadership at the top. The latest word on Intel’s search for a new CEO is a report that the firm has hired executive search firm Spencer Stuart. Clearly Intel will be looking at candidates from outside the company. An outside hire would be a first for the 45-year-old company, which has always given the corner office to an internal candidate.
When Intel announced in November that CEO Paul Otellini would be retiring, the company also named three new executive vice presidents: Renee James, who oversees software, COO Brian Kraznich, and CFO Stacy Smith. Otellini said that he thought an internal candidate would replace him, and speculation naturally centered on these three candidates. Now Intel says that it will be looking at both internal and external candidates.
A new CEO could bring Intel into a licensing agreement with ARM, Intel’s archrival whose chip architecture is found inside most mobile devices today. Otellini was the champion of Intel’s x86 architecture, which has ruled the PC market for years, and as mobile took off he rebuffed the idea of licensing ARM’s architecture. But a new leader might be more open to an alliance.
Unlike many of its competitors, Intel is not a fabless semiconductor supplier. It owns and operates foundries, and recently said it will invest $13 billion in manufacturing this year as it works to make ever-smaller cuts into its silicon wafers. Intel’s 22 nanometer manufacturing process is the most precise in the world, and the company is working toward 14 and even 10 nanometer processes. Intel’s board may decide that with so much invested in manufacturing, the company needs a CEO who fully understands this part of the business. COO Brian Kraznich is seen as a top internal candidate who is close to Intel’s manufacturing processes.
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