SANTA CLARA — Paul Otellini, the former chief executive of Intel who led the semiconductor giant through a period in which it won new business from the likes of Apple and focused more on technologies beyond chips for personal computers, died at his Kenwood home Monday.
Intel said Otellini died in his sleep. He was 66 years old.
Otellini served as Intel’s CEO from 2005 until his retirement from the company in 2013. A veteran of almost 40 years at Intel, Otellini was the company’s fifth CEO, and the first non-engineer to run the world’s biggest semiconductor maker. Prior to becoming CEO, Otellini held several executive positions at Intel, including executive vice president and general manager of Intel’s sales and marketing group, and chief operating officer, a job he had from 2002 to 2005.
Intel’s current CEO, Brian Krzanich, who replaced Otellini four years ago, took to Twitter to express his thoughts on Otellini’s passing.
Intel said that Otellini left his mark on the company in many ways. In a statement, the company noted that in the year before Otellini became CEO, Intel had $34 billion in annual sales, and that figure grew to $53 billion in revenue by 2012.
“Under his leadership the company made important strategic, technological and financial gains,” Intel said in a statement. “(His) accomplishments included signing on notable new customer engagements, such as winning the Apple PC business, and business partnerships and strategic acquisitions that expanded Intel’s presence in security software and mobile communications.”
Otellini also left a positive impression on those outside of Intel who tracked the company and its business efforts.
“Paul was one of those rare CEOs who was both effective and well liked by his subordinates and predecessors,” said Rob Enderle, director of technology research firm the Enderle Group. “(Intel co-founder) Andy Grove was often outspoken about the quality of the job Paul did, and his departure from Intel was hard felt by those that worked at the company at that time.”
Otellini also laid the groundwork for Intel’s move beyond reliance on its long-time, bellwether PC chip business. Under Otellini’s watch, Intel began to expand its reach into data centers, which has become one of the company’s biggest growth areas; and in 2011, Intel completed its $7.7 billion acquisition of security company McAfee, and changed its name to Intel Security. (Earlier this year, Intel spun out its security business into a joint venture with TPG Capital. Intel maintains a 49 percent stake in the company, which reclaimed the McAfee name.)
But Otellini also had challenges during his tenure. Intel largely missed out on the booming market for smartphone chipsets. And in early 2017, the company canceled its Broxton mobile processor efforts due to losing too much ground to the likes of Qualcomm, and self-made chips from Apple and Samsung.
However, Intel is said to be retooling its mobile business to get in on 5G wireless technology platforms.
Still, Mark Hung, semiconductor analyst with Gartner, said the fact that Otellini became Intel’s CEO without having an engineering background “speaks of the respect that he had within the company.”
“He had a deep understanding of the company’s strengths and culture, and during his tenure, he pivoted the company to deliver on solutions instead of just chips,” Hung said. “This led to a period of growth for Intel, but it was also during his tenure that saw Intel miss the smartphone revolution.”