Incoming Intel CEO Brian Krzanich and President Renee James teamed up in their bid for the C-suite, a strategy that initially threw the board for a loop.
In a phone interview Thursday with CNBC, Intel Chairman Andy Bryant said the board originally wanted each CEO candidate to present a separate vision for the company. But Krzanich and James huddled on their own and decided they would make a stronger case if they presented it together. After board members considered forcing separate presentations, they decided to let Krzanich and James team up.
A joint bid like this is unusual, to say the least. This reporter has never heard of something similar happening at a top-tier technology company.
That said, it's not hard to see why Krzanich and James saw advantages in working together. Krzanich is Intel's foremost internal expert on chip manufacturing—an intricate task that Intel does with unmatched precision and efficiency. Intel's chip manufacturing facilities—or fabs, and they're commonly called—are a key reason why the company is more profitable than its peers.
James, on the other hand, has focused her career on the technology baked into the chips themselves. She most recently led software and services at Intel, and served as chief of staff to former CEO Andy Grove.
Bryant told CNBC that Intel had strong candidates both inside and outside the company, and that external candidates were in the running until the very end of the process.
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The board, he said, was looking for a vision that was more than evolutionary, but not so revolutionary that it would damage the company's very profitable businesses in PCs and servers. He said Krzanich and James succeeded in presenting bold ideas that they will soon share with the rest of the executive team—until then they, and the board, are holding that strategic vision close to the vest.
The board has not yet considered whether James will be offered a board seat. Its next scheduled meeting is in two weeks, around the time of the annual shareholder meeting.