It took him 30 years, but Brian Krzanich - the understated, analytical engineer who started his career at an Intel chip factory in New Mexico - quietly worked his way up to the top. Now, the man who once prided himself on halving production times will have to act swiftly to move the company into new areas of growth.
In 2010, Krzanich was on the brink of a weighty decision: whether to break with 50-year-old tradition and open up Intel's top-secret manufacturing facilities and make chips for other companies. He called a teleconference of 8-10 key people - executives from marketing, investor relations and sales among them - and began firing off questions.
He wanted to know if going ahead with the manufacturing deal could create any potential problems for other areas within Intel, like upsetting major customers or creating misunderstandings on Wall Street about Intel's core strategies.
"His job was to say, Can we do it economically and make money in our factory? But he was really good about making sure the supply-chain guys, the marketing guys, everyone kind of understood the impact of (the potential deal)."
In less than an hour, he took a decision that would pave the way toward a new business for Intel: Achronix became its first foundry customer. This past February, Altera Corp became its first major client for the business, and industry insiders believe it could eventually reach a similar deal with Apple.
Becoming a foundry is a fundamentally different direction for Intel. I doubt if even Otelllini could have made this strategic decision by himself...I think this would have required the prior approval of the Board of Directors.
Of course, Krzanich could very well have initiated the discussions...I think that is definitely more plausible than indicate that he made the decision himself to launch Intel into the foundry business.