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Who is Brian Krzanich, Intel's new CEO?

Who is Brian Krzanich, Intel's new CEO?


Intel's pick to succeed Paul Otellini appears to be a safe bet, but that might not be what the company needs

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Brian Krzanich, Intel CEO
Brian Krzanich, Intel CEO

On Thursday, Intel announced that it has chosen a successor to outgoing CEO Paul Otellini, former COO Brian Krzanich. Otellini has been CEO of Intel since 2005, but six months ago, he announced his intention to retire this month and Krzanich will take the reins of the computer giant on May 16th. But who exactly is Krzanich, and will he be the right man to steer Intel through this new "post PC" era?

Krzanich has spent much of his career at Intel, joining the company back in 1982 as a process engineer. He moved up the ranks of Intel's manufacturing divisions, before being appointed COO in January 2012. While overseeing Intel's manufacturing, he shook up the company's factories and supply chains, eventually increasing output and lowering costs for the company. He was also involved in Intel's investments in outside companies and the shift to more efficient processor manufacturing.

"I am deeply honored by the opportunity to lead Intel," said Krzanich in a prepared statement. "We have amazing assets, tremendous talent, and an unmatched legacy of innovation and execution. I look forward to working with our leadership team and employees worldwide to continue our proud legacy, while moving even faster into ultra-mobility, to lead Intel into the next era."

Krzanich has the engineering background Otellini lacked

During Otellini's time as CEO, he took a lot of flack for not having an engineering background while leading a company that was primarily engineering-based. Krzanich likely won't face the same criticisms, since he started with the company as an engineer, but that doesn't mean he doesn't have plenty of challenges ahead of him. The shift from the PC's dominance of the computing industry — Intel's traditional bread and butter — to mobile devices has affected the company's balance sheet: profits were down 25 percent last quarter. Despite numerous attempts to break into the mobile processor space — currently owned by companies such as Qualcomm and Nvidia — Intel has yet to translate the success its had with desktop processors over to smartphones and tablets.

Intel isn't just betting on mobile devices to maintain its growth: the company has promised to release an internet-based TV service complete with a set-top box by the end of this year. With the definition of "computing" shifting from the desk to mobile devices and the living room, Intel is trying to cover all of its bases, and it might just be successful at disrupting the stranglehold of cable companies.

Intel's pick is more or less the status quo, which may not be a good thing

But skeptics aren't so sure that Krzanich represents a new outlook for Intel. Back in November, Cromwell Schubarth of the Silicon Valley Business Journal predicted that Intel would appoint Krzanich as its next CEO, and noted that it is more or less a status quo move by the company. Though Intel had said it was looking at candidates from both outside and inside the company, it ended up following historical patterns and choosing the safe bet: a company man that will probably make few drastic changes and will keep Intel on the same course it has been for the past couple of years.