Intel Partners Shocked At Client Computing Executive Departure In Major Management Shakeup

Intel’s channel is in collective shock at the departure of Intel's client computing head -- whom partners called a channel stalwart -- as part of a large management shakeup revealed Monday.

In an email to employees Monday, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said two top executives were departing the company in the coming week: Kirk Skaugen, Intel's senior vice president for its Client Computing Group, and Doug Davis, general manager of Intel's Internet of Things Group.

Partners who CRN interviewed said they are confused at Skaugen's departure from the company, and anxious to know Intel's plans for continuing to spearhead channel initiatives in the Client Computing Group.

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"I'm really surprised at [Skaugen's leaving]. … He’s been a big supporter for the channel, and he's done a lot of good work with partners," said one partner executive who wished to remain anonymous. "Intel's sending a big message to partners that it's looking at internal changes to build momentum within the company."

Intel said Skaugen has "decided to leave Intel for his next career opportunity," and will part ways with the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company at the end of the week.

Meanwhile, Doug Davis will retire from Intel at the end of 2016, according to Intel. "This is a decision Doug has been considering for some time, and he has decided that he would like to devote more of his time to family, friends, and other interests," said Krzanich in the letter to employees.

Skaugen led the charge after Intel reorganized in early 2015 to head the Client Computing Group, which was in charge of processors and modem chips in mobile devices on top of those used in PCs.

Under Skaugen's leadership, Intel released its sixth-generation Skylake processors for PCs, and also promoted new channel-friendly form factors such as Compute Sticks, mini towers and all-in-one computers.

However, Intel has also faced continuous challenges because of a weak PC market, which drove the Client Computing Group down 1 percent year over year in the fourth quarter of 2015.

Some partners said they worry whether Intel will continue to focus on its channel partners with the loss of the two executives.

"I would like to see Intel's plans for the future. … Intel is trying really hard to engage partners in these [Client Computing and IoT] categories. … More work needs to be done to make them more viable for partners," said a partner exec who wished to remain unnamed.

Andrew Kretzer, director of marketing and sales at Fremont, Calif.-based system builder and Intel partner Bold Data Technology, said he was shocked by the news of the two executives' departing, and wondered if it speaks to dysfunction the company's in Client Computing or IoT areas.

"While the client computing group's revenues have been shrinking, it’s still an enormous part of Intel’s overall business," Kretzer said. "I know they were looking for mobility and IoT to pick up some of the post-desktop-PC slack. … However, it appears that they're perhaps looking for some fresh governance across the board."

Some partner executives, such as Stephen Monteros, vice president of sales at Ontario, Calif.-based Intel Gold Technology Provider partner Sigmanet, said they are optimistic about the future for channel partners with Intel's Client Computing group and IoT group.

"The people we've been working with are very good, and this is something I would expect in the next group [of replacement executives]," Monteros said. "Intel does a tremendous job training their employees, and we think incoming employees will get vetted very well."

According to Intel, after Skaugen's departure, Navin Shenoy will assume responsibility for the Client Computing Group. Shenoy is vice president of Intel's Client Computing Group and general manager of mobility client platforms.

Intel made no comments about Aicha Evans, who, according to a report by Bloomberg on Friday, will be resigning as Intel's vice president and general manager of the Intel communication and devices group after less than a year in that position.