Intel-igence is where he chips in

18 May 2005 and Intel has a new CEO, Paul Otellini (54) succeeds Craig Barrett as the CEO of the corporation. Barrett is now chairman of the board. With Paul Otellini's vitality and knowledge of Intel products and customers and Barrett's status as an "industry leader", they will make an outstanding pair to run the corporation analysts say.

Paul Otellini is Intel's fifth CEO, taking over the throne of Craig Barrett. There was little surprise when he was chosen as the new CEO, as he was heir apparent. Otellini joined Intel in 1974 and has served as president and COO since 2002, the year he was also elected to Intel's board of directors. Since then, there was just one straight path for him, that leading to the CEO's desk. Otellini, who holds a bachelor's degree in economics from the University of San Francisco and a master's degree from the University of California at Berkeley, has come a long way since his first days in Intel.


Although Otellini is deeply involved in Intel's day-to-day operations and future product plans, he will have his work cut out for him during 2005, which will be a year of transitions for the company's products and management. There are apparently four pressing challenges for Otellini to adhere to right away as he begins work - The first is renewed competition from Advanced Micro Devices. Second is slowing PC sales. Intel makes the great bulk of its money from sales of microprocessors, the key chips that power PCs. Third is Intel's technology missteps of late. And fourth is the need to speed Intel's entry into other markets, including consumer devices such as cell phones and high-definition TVs.


There's one major difference between Otellini and his four CEO predecessors, who also include company co-founders Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore. Whereas those four were engineers, Otellini has spent most of his 31 years with Intel in marketing posts. Otellini has more than enough tech savvy to lead the company in the right direction, Moore recently said. "After 30 years immersed in the technology, he's more technical than I am at this stage," Moore said during a press conference. "The fact that his education may not have been technical, I don't think is any disadvantage at all after some 30 years in the industry," he added.

Otellini, who describes himself as a "product guy", isn't afraid to roll up his sleeves. And for this there is an anecdote to show his passion,– once, he drove a forklift at an Intel warehouse to help the company make end-of-quarter shipments.


So how does Otellini see Intel handling this raft of new challenges? For most companies, losing the CEO would only add to the crisis. But Intel has a long history of smooth transitions from one leader to the next, and Otellini has been the heir apparent for more than two years. "Bob [Noyce] was the consummate entrepreneur," says Otellini, describing the company's founding chief. "Gordon [Moore] was the genius. Andy [Grove] was the management guru. Craig [Barrett]'s legacy was building our manufacturing facilities in the middle of a downturn." Of himself Otellini says, "I'm the product guy." The implication: clever product design and planning can help guide Intel out of the wilderness.

Stepping in as the new CEO of Intel Corporation, Paul Otellini now shoulders the responsibility of the corporation's crusade into the new year, fighting the challenges. What will come of this, only time can tell…