Since it was founded on July 18, 1968, only five people have led Intel Corporation, a stark contrast to some far younger companies that have had many CEOs over shorter periods of time. The first two CEOs were company founders and the third was a participant from day one. Three of the five are San Francisco natives. The two most recent ascended to the role after decades with the company, each with different backgrounds. As Intel’s board of directors decides who will be CEO No. 6, here’s a quick summary of Intel’s CEOs to-date:
Robert Noyce, Intel CEO 1968-1975
Intel was the second startup for Robert Noyce, a physicist and co-inventor of the integrated circuit. He and Gordon Moore were among the so-called “traitorous eight” who left Shockley Labs to start Fairchild Semiconductor on Oct. 1, 1957. Their decision ignited the startup culture that defines Silicon Valley to this day.
Noyce and Moore then left Fairchild to start Intel in 1968 with a $10,000 investment from venture capitalist Arthur Rock. Two years later, on Oct. 13, 1971, the company went public at $23.50 per share, raising $6.8 million. In 1971, the company launched the Intel 4004, the first commercially available microprocessor.
Noyce, described by many as magnetic, was known as “the Mayor of Silicon Valley.” Younger entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, most notably Steve Jobs, often sought his counsel. Noyce oversaw a casual, hands-on work environment at Intel that became the standard for Silicon Valley. His “go off and do something wonderful” mantra still graces the walls of Intel facilities today.
An Iowa native born in 1927, he earned an undergraduate degree in physics from Grinnell College and a doctorate from MIT. Noyce held 16 semiconductor-related patents and was awarded the National Medal of Science in 1979 and the National Medal of Technology in 1987. He was an avid pilot, skier and hang glider. Noyce, who died in 1990, served as Intel CEO from 1968 to 1975.
Gordon Moore, Intel CEO 1975-1987
In addition to being a co-founder of Intel and one of the “traitorous eight” who started Fairchild, Gordon Moore is the author of “Moore’s Law,” the guiding principle of the semiconductor industry for 40-plus years and counting. His observation, which was first published in Electronics Magazine on April 19, 1965, predicted a doubling of the number of transistors on an integrated circuit to be every year, a thousand-fold increase in the following decade from 60 to about 60,000. In 1975, he altered the prediction to every 2 years.
It was during Moore’s tenure that Intel, facing pressure from low-cost Japanese competitors, famously decided to get out of the memory business and focus on microprocessors. The move proved fortuitous as it strategically positioned Intel for the advent of the personal computer. When IBM introduced its first PC in 1981, it ran on an Intel 8088 processor.
Moore was born in San Francisco in 1929 and earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from UC Berkeley and a Ph.D. in physics and chemistry from Cal Tech. He completed post-doctoral work at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory before joining Shockley Labs in 1956 where he met Robert Noyce.
He was awarded the National Medal of Technology in 1990 and in 2002 the Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. Moore was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2009 and serves on the board of Cal Tech. He and his wife have helped advance environmental conservation and cutting-edge scientific research around the world though the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, which was established in 2000. Moore, an avid fisherman who spends several months of the year at his house in Hawaii, was CEO of Intel from 1975 to 1987.
Andy Grove, Intel CEO 1987-1998
Although not officially a founder of Intel, Andy Grove was a participant from the beginning. Ironically, Grove ended up as employee No. 4 due to a clerical error. As the story goes, he hired Les Vadasz as the next employee beyond Noyce, Moore and himself, but somehow Vadasz was assigned employee No. 3.
Intel’s initial investor and former board chairman, Arthur Rock, told Grove’s biographer Richard Tedlow that “for Intel to succeed, Intel needed Noyce, Moore and Andrew Grove. And it needed them in that order. Noyce: the visionary, born to inspire; Moore: the virtuoso of technology; and Grove: the technologist turned management scientist.”
On Grove’s watch, Intel became one of the most valuable companies in the world. Its stock price rose 31.6 percent a year and revenues grew from $1.9 billion to $25.1 billion. Most of the company’s revenues were reinvested in research, development and building new manufacturing facilities.
Grove, who worked in a cubicle similar to other employees, was known for a management style that encouraged innovation, risk taking and open communication. His mantra, “only the paranoid survive,” became the title of a best-selling management book he authored. The phrase exemplified his concern that success breeds complacency and conviction that a company should always be ready for unexpected shifts in business or technology. Other books he penned include the business-focused “High Output Management” and the personal memoir “Swimming Across.”
Born in Budapest, Hungary in 1936, Grove earned a bachelor’s degree and Ph.D. in chemical engineering from City College of New York and UC Berkeley, respectively. After completing his doctorate he joined Fairchild Semiconductor where he met Noyce and Moore.
He was recognized with the IEEE Engineering Leadership Recognition award in 1987, the AEA Medal of Achievement in 1993 and in 1997 was named “Man of the Year” by Time magazine. It would be more than a decade before any other Silicon Valley executive earned the same honor; Mark Zuckerberg was named “Person of the Year” in 2010. (A side note, Time named the PC “Machine of the Year” in 1982). Grove was CEO of Intel from 1987 to 1998.
Craig Barrett, Intel CEO 1998-2005
Craig Barrett joined Intel in 1974 and built his reputation in the company’s core semiconductor manufacturing business. In the 1980s he led the implementation of the company’s “copy exactly” strategy that called for engineers to first perfect a manufacturing process in one fabrication plant and then duplicate it in other factories, thereby avoiding inconsistencies or costly flaws in the production process. Intel continues to use the philosophy in its factories today.
Barrett became CEO during a period of rapid growth and exuberance across the tech industry, when the Internet was beginning to usher in massive changes in e-commerce and consumer behavior. Networks and networking loomed large, and Intel acquired several companies to grow its business at an unprecedented pace while also moving into PC peripherals and even data hosting. With the dot-com collapse, some of those acquisitions soured, but Barrett continued investing heavily in manufacturing and process technology during the downturn. It was also on Barrett’s watch that Intel launched Centrino mobile technology, which helped usher in the wireless era 10 years ago (Paul Otellini was head of the Intel Architecture Group at the time).
Barrett, who was born in San Francisco and earned his undergraduate, master’s and doctoral degrees in materials sciences from Stanford University, was also a member of the faculty at the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the Palo Alto institution. He was a Fulbright Fellow, a NATO Postdoctoral Fellow at the National Physical Laboratory in England, and author of technical papers about the influence of microstructure on the properties of materials. Barrett, who like Moore is an avid fisherman and outdoorsman, was Intel CEO from 1998 to 2005.
Paul Otellini, Intel CEO 2005-2013
Paul Otellini joined Intel the same year as Barrett, 1974, but took a different path to becoming CEO. He started his career in finance, spent time running the Sales and Marketing Group, and eventually became general manager of the Microprocessor Products Group, leading the introduction of the Pentium processor and dozens of other products. He also served as technical assistant to Andy Grove, managed Intel’s business with IBM and eventually headed the Intel Architecture Group, responsible for all of Intel’s products.
While other CEOs before him were often engaged with government leaders around the world, Otellini is alone in hosting a sitting United States president at Intel factories twice in 2 years. It was also Otellini who finalized the deal with Steve Jobs and presided over Apple’s historic shift to Intel processors. He also added Motorola, Facebook, Sun, Cisco, BMW, Mercedes Benz and many others to the list of Intel customers as the company continued to grow into new areas. Major acquisitions during his tenure included the $7.6 billion purchase of McAfee and Infineon’s Wireless Solutions business for $1.4 billion. In 2012, Intel also made a $4.1 billion investment in semiconductor photolithography systems maker ASML Holdings.
As with his CEO predecessors, Otellini continued to invest heavily in manufacturing and process technology including the addition of multi-billion-dollar manufacturing plants in Arizona, Oregon, Israel and China. Like Barrett, he continued pushing to diversify the company beyond its traditional core microprocessor business and presided over Intel’s nascent efforts into phones. While the company has only a fraction of the overall market share in phones, 10 phones with Intel chips are shipping today in 20 countries.
Born in San Francisco in 1950, Otellini earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of San Francisco and an MBA from the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley. His is on the board of Google and serves on the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. In November 2012, Otellini announced that he would retire from the company in May 2013. He will have served as Intel CEO from 2005 to 2013.
This content was originally published on the Intel Free Press website.