PAUL OTELLINI, a 39-year veteran of Intel who served as CEO from 2005 until 2013, has passed away. He died in his sleep on Monday, Intel said in a statement this week.
Otellini was only the company's fifth CEO but oversaw the company's mid-2000s fightback against AMD and the re-assertion of its technological dominance of the desktop, server and data centre microprocessor markets.
While Intel - particular under the leadership of one of Otellini's predecessors, Andy Grove - had a reputation for being aggressively competitive, Otellini himself was known for being "forthright and charming". He wasn't, however, a Steve Jobs-style leader or presenter.
"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," said current Intel CEO Brian Krzanich.
Otellini was born in San Francisco, California on 12 October 1950. He attended the University of San Francisco in 1972, where he graduated in economics, and gained an MBA from the University of California, Berkeley in 1974, the same year that he joined Intel.
Otellini served in a number of positions, including general manager of Intel's Peripheral Components Operation and the Folsom Microcomputer Division. In 1989 he was appointed chief of staff to CEO Andy Grove.
From 1990 to 2002, he held various positions at Intel, including executive vice president and general manager of the Intel Architecture Group, responsible for the company's microprocessor and chipset businesses, and strategies for desktop, mobile and enterprise computing.
He was also executive vice president and general manager of Intel's Sales and Marketing Group, and served as chief operating officer from 2002 to 2005.
As CEO, Otellini reorganised the company to focus its core microprocessor and chipset businesses on particular platforms, such as enterprise, home, and mobility. Under his leadership, Intel cranked up its technical competitive, especially with the introduction of new microprocessor architectures in 2009 that enabled the company to wrest the initiative from AMD.
Under his leadership the company sold its ARM-based Xscale mobile CPU assets to Marvel, focusing the company's mobility efforts on in-house developed technology, a move that didn't prove quite as successful as Intel's developments in desktop, server and data centre CPUs.
Another key mistake, though, and one that Otellini acknowledged when he retired, was the decision to pass up the opportunity to design and produce a mobile CPU for Apple's iPhone.
"At the end of the day, there was a chip that they were interested in that they wanted to pay a certain price for and not a nickel more and that price was below our forecasted cost. I couldn't see it. It wasn't one of these things you can make up on volume," he said.
Apple instead opted for a Samsung-made 32-bit ARM-based microprocessor for its iPhone.
"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 told The Atlantic in an interview when he retired. "My gut told me to say yes."
However, financially, his tenure as CEO was hugely successful: Intel generated more revenue during his eight-year tenure than it did during the rest of the company's 45-year history, while generating $66bn in profits compared to $68bn generated by all his predecessors combined.
After retirement in 2013, Otellini spent his time mentoring young people and being involved with several philanthropic and charitable organisations, including the San Francisco Symphony and San Francisco General Hospital Foundation. µ
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