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Otellini Told Board He Wanted Out Last Wednesday: WSJ

Intel CEO began discussing possible retirement six months ago without divulging a specific timetable

Intel CEO Paul Otellini told his board last Wednesday that he wanted to wrap up his tenure in May according to the Wall Street Journal.

That gave the company four days by SEC rules to announce his decision to go despite the fact he has no heir apparent.

The paper said “one high-tech executive who knows Mr. Otellini well said he began discussing possible retirement six months ago without divulging a specific timetable.”

Otellini was careful to pick the time to pop his decision to coincide with the company’s November board meeting, which “always focuses on succession planning and CEO evaluation. By disclosing his decision at the time, Mr. Otellini allowed the board to focus on laying plans for the six-month process to find a successor” and even consider putting an outsider at the helm of the company.

The paper offered David DeWalt, the former CEO of McAfee, which Intel acquired last year, and William Nuti, CEO of NCR, as men e interested in running Intel.

There is also Pat Gelsinger, now head of VMware, who left Intel a few years ago on the theory that he would replace Joe Tucci as CEO of VMware’s majority owner EMC.

Intel’s scruffy Columbo-style chairman Andy Bryant reportedly tried to persuade Otellini to stay but Otellini is convinced it’s time for a change in management in the face of the iPhone, iPad and their imitators. Still the board is “pretty comfortable with the strategy Paul has put in place,” according to what Bryant told the Journal, and “doesn’t see the need for a major change in direction.”

That would seem to give Otellini less reason to leave.

Intel believes it has achieved rough parity in power consumption against the fabled ARM architecture that currently dominates the mobile universe that is now sapping Intel’s historically overweening strength and expects to use new manufacturing processes to achieve further gains.

Even if Intel does scrape out a position in mobile it will never dominate or command the huge profit margins it’s used to, observers say.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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