Former Intel CEO Paul Otellini dies at age 66
Former Intel chief executive Paul Otellini died in his sleep Monday, the company said. He was 66.
Otellini ran Intel from 2005 until his retirement in 2013, a period during which the company’s revenue grew rapidly amid broad adoption of PCs and high-powered corporate servers. Most famously, Otellini appeared onstage with Steve Jobs in 2006 to announce that Apple would switch to Intel processors in its flagship Mac computers.
However, Intel missed the revolution in mobile technology under Otellini’s watch and he acknowledged the lost opportunity to win a place for Intel’s microprocessors in the original iPhone.
“We ended up not winning it or passing on it, depending on how you want to view it. And the world would have been a lot different if we’d done it,” Otellini told The Atlantic in 2013.
“The lesson I took away from that was, while we like to speak with data around here, so many times in my career I’ve ended up making decisions with my gut, and I should have followed my gut,” he said. “My gut told me to say yes.”
Intel’s headquarters are in Silicon Valley and Otellini lived in San Francisco. But the company’s largest site – then and now – is in Oregon. Though Otellini rarely visited the company’s operations in Washington County, he was on hand in 2011 when President Barack Obama visited the Ronler Acres campus in Hillsboro.
Otellini joined Intel in 1974 and later served as chief of staff to legendary CEO Andy Grove. He was chief operating officer for three years before his promotion to chief executive.
Shortly after taking over as CEO, Otellini ordered what was then the biggest restructuring in Intel’s history, eliminating 10,000 jobs in 2006 and 2007. At the time, the company was losing ground to multicore chips from AMD and the job cuts were a painful period in its history, analogous to the 15,000 positions Intel eliminated last year amid a decline in its core PC business.
Intel quickly recalibrated, though, and introduced its own line of efficient, powerful, multicore processors. It also made a series of advancements in chip technology under Otellini, enabling rapid improvements in computers’ abilities.
“Paul’s business acumen, optimism and dedication fueled our growth throughout his tenure as CEO,” Intel Chairman Andy Bryant said in a written statement Tuesday. “His tireless drive, discipline and humility were cornerstones of his leadership and live on in our company values to this day.”
Intel’s sales grew considerably during Otellini’s tenure. But its stock rose only 17 percent – adjusting for dividends – during the eight years he ran the company, a period that included the Great Recession. Near the end of his tenure Intel was under growing pressure from upstart ARM Holdings, whose chips proved more adaptable for mobile computing.
In 2012 Otellini surprised Intel’s board by announcing he would retire the following year, and the company launched a six-month search for his successor. It ultimately settled on chief operating officer Brian Krzanich, who remains CEO.
Otellini’s survivors include his wife, Sandy, of 30 years, a son and a daughter.