Mr. Otellini did not give a definite reason for his retirement — opting to say it was time to “transfer Intel’s helm to a new generation of leadership” — though at 62 he is nearing Intel’s mandatory retirement age of 65.
The task of finding a replacement for Mr. Otellini lies with Intel’s board of directors. Traditionally, Intel’s CEOs are promoted from within; the five CEOs the company has had within its 45-year history have all been insiders.
While due diligence mandated by the shareholders and employment law dictates that the board must consider external candidates, a slew of promotions after Mr. Otellini’s retirement suggests that the contenders for the job have been narrowed to three.
After the announcement, Chief Financial Officer Stacy Smith, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Software and Services Renee James and Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Brian Krzanich were all promoted to “executive vice presidents”.
However, one analyst at Gartner believes that the board may opt for an internal “dark horse” candidate.
Speaking to Computerworld, analyst Ken Dulaney believes that Intel is very likely to promote from within — and promote Ms. James to the top job — he believes that Chief Product Officer and general manager of Intel Architecture Group David Perlmutter should not be discounted from the competition.
“This would be my choice,” said Mr. Dulaney. “Intel needs a product architect after focusing in on sales and operations….They may look for an operations person, but what they need is a product strategist.”
If the board is to consider an external candidate, one name that has been tossed around by analysts is Sanjay Jha the former CEO of Motorola Mobility Holdings.
RBC Capital Markets analyst Doug Freedman believes that the ex-CEO of Motorola Mobility would help the company conquer the mobile market, but such a hire would come with its own set of challenges.
“Stacy is the most focused of the three, but do you want a finance guy running a technology company?” Mr. Feedman said to Bloomberg.
“If the board really wants a change, they’ve got to go and get a turnaround guy,” he continued.
“That’s difficult for a company the size of Intel. You’d need someone from a big company.”