Intel names Robert Swan as chief executive

Swan succeeded Brian Krzanich who resigned in June 2018

Photograph: Mike Blake/Reuters

Photograph: Mike Blake/Reuters

 

Intel made interim chief executive Robert Swan’s role permanent on Thursday, marking the first time the chipmaker has picked a leader who did not rise through the company ranks.

Mr Swan (58) who was previously Intel’s chief financial officer, served as eBay’s chief financial officer for nine years before a stint in private equity and joining Intel in 2016.

His career in corporate finance marks a sharp break from tradition at Intel, which has typically been led by engineers who spent decades at the company and time in both its microchip architecture and manufacturing businesses.

Mr Swan will be tasked with getting the chipmaker’s struggling manufacturing operations back on track and fending off newer chip rivals that are eating into Intel’s dominance in personal computers and data centres.

“Our ambitions have never been greater and we have a relatively small share of the largest addressable market in Intel’s history,” Mr Swan said in a letter to Intel employees. “We must remain focused on playing offense and innovating for an increasingly data-centric world.”

Given Mr Swan’s short tenure and lack of experience in manufacturing, many analysts had said he was unlikely to be named permanent chief executive. Intel’s shares were down 2 per cent in morning trading.

‘Outstanding job’

Mr Swan has also publicly said he was not interested in becoming the permanent chief executive of the company. But sources familiar with the matter said Mr Swan had privately said he would accept the role if offered.

“Important in the board’s decision was the outstanding job Bob did as interim chief executive for the past seven months, as reflected in Intel’s outstanding results in 2018,” chairman Andy Bryant said.

In recent decades the chip industry has split between chip design and manufacturing, with manufacturing companies like Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing specialising in the factories that make chips while companies like Qualcomm specialise in designing chips but outsource their manufacturing.

Intel is one of the few remaining companies trying to both design and manufacture chips. But it has faced fierce competition, losing its lead in making the world’s smallest chip features to TSMC and facing an increasing threat from rivals like Advanced Micro Devices and Nvidia that do not make their own chips.

Mr Swan had been in temporary charge of the chipmaker since last June when Brian Krzanich left the top job after an investigation found he had a consensual relationship with an employee in breach of company policy. Mr Swan will be the seventh chief executive in Intel’s 50-year history.

Intel also said Todd Underwood, vice president of finance, would assume the role of interim chief financial officer as the company undertakes an internal and external search for a permanent chief financial officer. – Reuters