Intel's Search For A CEO Still Fruitless After Six Months As Competitive Pressure Mounts

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Intel's leadership ranks were thrown into chaos over the summer when CEO Brian Krzanich abruptly resigned from his position. Krzanich was the subject of an internal investigation and it was discovered that he had a "past consensual relationship" with another Intel employee, which was in volition of corporate policy given his position. 

Since late June, Bob Swann has served as interim CEO as the company conducts its "robust search" for a permanent replacement. A new report from Bloomberg suggest that Intel's 6-month search still has yet to find the perfect fit for the CEO position.

The one obvious choice, Swann, has made is abundantly clear that he does not want to keep the role in the long term. According to the report, Intel has passed on a number of candidates including Sanjay Jha (former CEO of GlobalFoundries), Anand Chandrasekher (most recently served as the chief of Qualcomm's server efforts) and Renee James (current CEO of Ampere Computing).

Another report this week suggested that Intel should look intently at AMD CEO Lisa Su to head up the company. Su has been credited with leading the charge to revive AMD's CPU division, and the company's Zen architecture has been an unmitigated success. 

Former Intel CEO Brian Krzanich

“Love her. I’ve known her for 20 years from when she was at the IBM workstation group in Austin. She’s smart as hell and has turned AMD around (look at the share price) and has all the troops motivated,” said Jon Peddie, President of Jon Peddie Research.

"[Intel] could try to hire Lisa Su, but that would be hard as well.”

That move seems unlikely at this point, but stranger things have happened. With that being said, some analysts are becoming increasingly antsy regarding Intel's inability to find a permanent figurehead after more than 6 months of looking. 

"They should be pushing to get a leader in place and then making decisions to give visibility to the whole company and the customer base," said Cowen & Co. analyst Matt Ramsay in an interview with Bloomberg

intel ice lake features

Intel is facing a number of immediate challenges and competition from multiple fronts. The company has encountered problems with starting volume production on its 10-nanometer production lines, and is years behind schedule. As of this writing, Intel says it is on track to ship 10nm processors for the Holiday 2019 shopping season.

While Intel was stuck in the mud with 10nm, its fierce rival AMD is well along with its 7-nanometer processors. The company is current sampling 7nm EPYC server processors, while its third-generation Ryzen mainstream processors are due in mid-2019. Samsung and TSMC have been producing 10nm for the past two years, and have already shifted to 7nm production lines.

Intel is also transitioning from a company that focuses primarily on PC processors to one that is more diverse, reaching across communications (4G LTE, 5G modems), discrete graphics, artificial intelligence (AI) along with connected and autonomous vehicle platforms. The new CEO will be tasked with making sure that Intel carves out a huge share of the market it in all of these segments.

Intel's 52-week high was $57.60, which it hit in early June. INTC dropped down to $48 immediately after the news broke of Krzanich's departure and has been on along a bumpy ride with the rest of the stock market ever since. INTC is currently trading at just under $49.