First non-engineer to run the world's biggest chipmaker died peacefully in his sleep Oct. 2.
SAN FRANCISCO — Paul Otellini, the first non-engineer to serve as CEO of Intel, died Monday (Oct. 2) in his sleep. He was 66.
Otellini led Intel from 2005 until until 2013, a period in which the company’s annual sales boomed from $34 billion to more than $53 billion. According to Intel, the company generated more revenue during Otellini’s eight-year tenure than it had in the previous 45 years combined.
Intel also noted that the company made other strategic, technological and financial gains under Otellini’s leadership, including remaining profitable during the global recession and landing Apple’s PC business, among others.
Jim McGregor, principal analyst at Tirias Research, said in an email exchange that Otellini was unique among the six CEOs Intel has had in its history because he was a “business guy” as opposed to “the typical technology guy.” Otellini also drove a new level of efficiency at Intel, McGregor added.
“Paul is credited with focusing Intel on its core competencies at a time when Intel was behind AMD,” McGregor said. This lead Intel into the dominant position it now enjoys in PCs and servers. However, it did come at a price to mobile, communications and other segments that Intel once sought to enter.”
G. Dan Hutcheson, chairman and CEO at market watcher VLSI Research, said it would be a mistake to see Otellini’s term as Intel’s CEO only through the lens of the company’s failure to meaningfully penetrate the mobile market.
“Few will remember that when he became CEO, Intel’s share of the PC market was in steep decline, as AMD gobbled it up. There was a week, at the time, where it’s share actually fell below 50 percent.”
Hutcheson said AMD was beating Intel at the time with about one fifth of the resources. “Regaining the lost momentum was the result of a multi-vectored effort that included revamping Intel’s architecture design team, which reinvigorated Intel Architecture with dual-core, de-emphasizing the RISC-based Itanium architecture, and shifting supply chain relationships from adversarial to partnering,” Hutcheson said. “He also transformed Intel from a great technology company to a marketing company with great technology.”
“We are deeply saddened by Paul’s passing,” Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said in a press statement. “He was the relentless voice of the customer in a sea of engineers, and he taught us that we only win when we put the customer first.”
Otellini was born in San Francisco in 1950. He received a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of San Francisco in 1972 and an MBA from the University of California-Berkeley in 1974. He joined Intel in 1974 and held several positions, including serving as former CEO Andy Grove’s chief of staff and leading Intel’s influential Architecture Group, prior to serving as Intel’s chief operating officer from 2002 until his appointment as CEO in 2005.
According to Hutcheson, Otellini from Intel early — not for himself, but because he saw “major storms ahead and felt it wouldn’t be right for him to wait and leave the helm in the middle of the coming hurricane. He did it for the good of company and its employees, which is a rare height of duty and honor for CEOs.”
“Paul’s business acumen, optimism and dedication fueled our growth throughout his tenure as CEO,” Intel Chairman Andy Bryant said. “His tireless drive, discipline and humility were cornerstones of his leadership and live on in our company values to this day.”
Otellini is survived by his wife of 30 years, Sandy, as well as a son and a daughter.
Intel said Otellini had dedicated time to mentoring young people and being involved with philanthropic and charitable organizations, including the San Francisco Symphony and San Francisco General Hospital Foundation, since his retirement in 2013.
— Dylan McGrath is editor-in-chief of EE Times.