Intel Corp., the world’s largest chipmaker, elevated Chief Operating Officer Brian Krzanich to chief executive officer, following Paul Otellini’s eight-year stint in the job.
The former factory manager will assume the new role at the company’s annual shareholder meeting on May 16, when Otellini, 62, steps down as CEO and director, Santa Clara, California- based Intel said today in a statement.
Otellini had announced his decision to resign in November. Otellini, 62, will be ending a nearly 40-year career with Intel, including an eight-year stint as CEO by the time he leaves.
Krzanich isn’t inheriting Otellini’s title of president. It will go instead to software chief Renee James, 48, creating a two-person “executive office” at the head of the company. James had been another candidate for the CEO post, along with Stacy Smith, chief financial officer and director of corporate strategy.
Krzanich, 52, started at Intel Corp. in 1982 as a process engineer and worked his way up through the manufacturing side of the business to become COO in January 2012. He becomes the sixth CEO in Intel’s history and continues its tradition of hiring for the top job from within the company’s ranks. The COO job is the traditional stepping-stone to the CEO post at Intel. Both Otellini and his predecessor, Craig Barrett, held that job before becoming CEO.
Analyst Doug Freedman at RBC Capital Markets said Krzanich is a safe, consensus pick for the CEO post, one unlikely to attempt a significant strategy change.
“We view Mr. Krzanich as very much focused on delivery of results over image or perception,” Freedman said.
The change in command comes at a critical time for Intel. After thriving for decades as the dominant seller of PC microprocessors, the company is scrambling to prove that it can make chips that work well on smartphones and tablet computers. With Intel playing catch-up in the world of smartphones and tablets, going with an insider may be a risky strategy, said Cody Acree, an analyst at Williams Financial Group Inc. in Dallas.
“A fresh set of eyes from an external candidate might have been a good move,” said Acree, who has a hold rating on the stock. “Intel has to be ultra-successful in another large market or in a lot of markets to reinvigorate your growth.”
Krzanich has a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from San Jose State University and holds a patent for semiconductor processing. He joined Intel in 1982 in New Mexico as an engineer just as the personal computer industry was beginning to take off. At the time, Intel was vying with companies such as Motorola Inc. and International Business Machines Corp. in the burgeoning computer-processor market.
By ratcheting up the speed of its processors through improvements in manufacturing, Intel was able to make itself the industry standard and forced out all opposition other than Advanced Micro Devices Inc., which has struggled to attain more than 20 percent of the industry’s sales. When AMD did threaten Intel’s position in 2005, Intel invested more in its technology and snatched back the market share it had given up.
That recipe hasn’t helped it gain a foothold in mobile phones and tablets, which now threaten growth in its core business. Chips made using technology from ARM Holdings Plc technology account for more than 95 percent of the smartphone market. Intel has spent more than a decade and billions of dollars trying to gain a foothold, yet ended last year with less than 1 percent of the market for phone microprocessors.
Still, Krzanich’s background refining production technology could help Intel finally mount a serious challenge to its phone rivals such as Qualcomm Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co., said Patrick Wang, an analyst at Evercore Partners Inc. in New York.
“They need to try to amplify that manufacturing advantage as much as they can,” Wang said. “They don’t have another edge.”
(Bloomberg News and The Associated Press contributed to this report)