Intel Promotes Robert Swan to Permanent Chief

By Doug Black

January 31, 2019

Intel today announced the promotion of former CFO Robert “Bob” Swan to CEO, a post he had held on an interim basis for seven months after the forced resignation in June of former CEO Brian Krzanich.

Swan, 58, who joined Intel as CFO in October 2016, becomes Intel’s seventh CEO. The Financial Times reported that Swan will receive a base salary of $1.25 million, according to an SEC filing.

The move may come as a surprise to some given the length of CEO search process as well as reported statements in The Oregonian earlier this month that Intel “Chairman Andy Bryant told some employees recently that the chipmaker may go with a ‘non-traditional’ candidate, suggesting a CEO from outside the company is a possibility.”

In today’s announcement, Bryant said, “As Intel continues to transform its business to capture more of a large and expanding opportunity that includes the data center, artificial intelligence and autonomous driving, while continuing to get value from the PC business, the board concluded after a thorough search that Bob is the right leader to drive Intel into its next era of growth. The search committee conducted a comprehensive evaluation of a wide range of internal and external candidates to identify the right leader at this critical juncture in Intel’s evolution. We considered many outstanding executives and we concluded the best choice is Bob. Important in the board’s decision was the outstanding job Bob did as interim CEO for the past seven months, as reflected in Intel’s outstanding results in 2018. Bob’s performance, his knowledge of the business, his command of our growth strategy, and the respect he has earned from our customers, our owners, and his colleagues confirmed he is the right executive to lead Intel.”

Industry watcher Patrick Moorhead, CEO of Moor Insights & Strategy, noted Swan’s previously expressed reluctance to take the top spot at Intel.

“I am a bit surprised as Swan said he didn’t want the role,” he told HPCwire sister site EnterpriseTech, “but I always thought that he should be considered for it. Swan told me that as he was in the interim CEO role, he started to like and enjoy it. I do think Intel’s strategy is the right one; the company needs to improve its execution, and bringing in an outsider without Intel experience didn’t make sense. Intel has a very strong bench, two who were considered for the CEO role, who will help Swan and Intel.”

Addison Snell, CEO of HPC industry analyst firm Intersect360 Research, also was positive about the move.

“With the appointment of Bob Swan as CEO, Intel is reaffirming its aggressive strategy to capture a wider market share outside of traditional PC and server processors, across a broader aperture of data-centric technologies,” Snell told us. “Within the scope of HPC, AI, and hyperscale, there are now more processing options available than ever before, serving diversified, high-performance workloads. Swan’s intention to ‘play offense,’ as stated in his first-day email to Intel employees, speaks to his confidence in Intel’s ability to execute simultaneously on multiple fronts.”

Swan himself said, “In my role as interim CEO, I’ve developed an even deeper understanding of Intel’s opportunities and challenges, our people and our customers. When I was first named interim CEO, I was immediately focused on running the company and working with our customers. When the board approached me to take on the role permanently, I jumped at the chance to lead this special company. This is an exciting time for Intel: 2018 was an outstanding year and we are in the midst of transforming the company to pursue our biggest market opportunity ever. I’m honored to have the chance to continue working alongside our board, our leadership team, and our more than 107,000 superb employees as we take the company forward.”

Intel said Todd Underwood, VP of finance and director of Intel’s Corporate Planning and Reporting, will become interim CFO.

Prior to joining Intel, Swan served as an operating partner at General Atlantic LLC and served on Applied Materials’ board of directors. He previously spent nine years as CFO of eBay Inc., where he is currently a director. Earlier in his career, he was CFO of Electronic Data Systems Corp. and TRW Inc. He also served as CFO, COO and CEO of Webvan Group Inc., and began his career at General Electric, serving for 15 years in several senior finance roles.

The announcement follows disclosures last week during Intel’s quarterly earnings announcement that it was dampening its business forecast for 2019 due to weakening data center server chip demand in China and among the major public cloud providers.

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