Paul Otellini, Intel Veteran Who Rose to CEO, Dies at 66

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  • Executive left in 2013 after leading Intel for eight years
  • Otellini was also member of Alphabet’s board of directors

Paul Otellini

Photographer: Noah Berger/Bloomberg

Paul Otellini, the former chief executive officer of Intel Corp., died at the age of 66, the chipmaker said in a statement.

Otellini served as Intel’s CEO from 2005 until retiring in 2013 and handing the reins to current CEO Brian Krzanich. He joined Intel in 1974 and held executive positions in sales, marketing and chip architecture, as well as being chief operating officer and president of the company. Otellini made his name overseeing the introduction of the Pentium processor in 1993.

Krzanich said Otellini “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.”

Leaders at Alphabet Inc., where he served on the board, also praised Otellini. “We were so fortunate to have his leadership and guidance on our board,” Sundar Pichai, CEO of Alphabet’s Google, said on Twitter. “It’s hard to imagine not having him to turn to.

During his tenure, Otellini helped the chipmaker increase its annual revenue more than 55 percent and made several moves, including putting greater emphasis on processors for the lucrative computer server market, that pushed the company to record profits. He also oversaw key initiatives such as the partnership with Apple Inc. to bring Intel processors to Mac computers. Still, Intel was late into the market for mobile devices and investors weren’t always satisfied with the company’s performance, as the shares declined almost 20 percent during his eight years at the helm.

“His tenure was marked by some triumphs as well as some missteps,” said Stacy Rasgon, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. “Intel got really big, their margins expanded. He presided over key revenue growth and gross margin expansion.”

To be sure, upon Otellini’s retirement, Intel lagged behind in mobile, garnering only 1 percent of the chip market for smartphones and tablets. Today, Intel has expanded its mobile business by supplying cellular modems for smartphones such as Apple’s iPhone.

“Paul’s business acumen, optimism and dedication fueled our growth throughout his tenure as CEO,” Intel Chairman Andy Bryant said in a statement. “His tireless drive, discipline and humility were the cornerstones of his leadership.”

Otellini was born in San Francisco. He received a bachelor’s degree in economics at the University of San Francisco in 1972 and a master’s degree in business administration at the University of California at Berkeley in 1974 before joining Intel. He was the company’s first CEO with an MBA and the first without a Ph.D.

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