Intel CEO Bob Swan is stepping down from the position on February 15th, the company has announced. He will be replaced by VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger. Swan was named Intel’s permanent CEO two years ago in January 2019. He initially took on the role on an interim basis in June 2018 following the resignation of Intel’s previous CEO Brian Krzanich.
Gelsinger, who previously worked at Intel for 30 years, will step into the CEO role at a crucial time for the chipmaker. Intel is facing renewed competition across its portfolio. It sustained a serious blow last year when Apple announced it would be transitioning its Mac lineup away from Intel’s processors and toward Apple’s own Arm-based designs. The first Macs based on Apple’s processors released late last year to a hugely positive response.
Meanwhile, Intel is also facing competition from a newly resurgent AMD, with Zen processors that offer competitive performance for gamers and professionals in both desktop and laptop computers.
The company also announced it was exiting the 5G phone modem market in April 2019, after Apple and Qualcomm resolved their longstanding patent infringement and royalties dispute. Intel subsequently sold the majority of its smartphone modem business to Apple for $1 billion.
CNBC, which reported the news prior to its official announcement, notes that Swan had faced criticism for having a largely financial background, rather than a technical one. Prior to working at Intel, Swan served as eBay’s chief financial officer and has worked at the venture capital firm General Atlantic. In contrast, Gelsinger began his career at Intel and served as the company’s first chief technology officer. CNBC reports that Intel’s stock was up around 10 percent on news of Gelsinger’s appointment.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Swan’s departure follows pressure from activist hedge fund Third Point LLC, which has pushed for the company to make sweeping changes.
“The board is confident that Pat, together with the rest of the leadership team, will ensure strong execution of Intel’s strategy to build on its product leadership and take advantage of the significant opportunities ahead as it continues to transform from a CPU to a multi-architecture XPU company,” Intel’s independent board chair, Omar Ishrak, said in a statement, adding that the board appreciates Swan’s contributions to the company.
Update January 13th, 10:08AM ET: Updated with news of Intel’s exit from the mobile 5G modem business, as well as the WSJ’s report that Swan’s departure follows pressure from an activist hedge fund.