Partners: Intel Must Focus On Channel After Krzanich's Sudden Departure


Intel partners shared mixed reactions to the news of CEO Brian Krzanich's sudden resignation on Thursday, with some saying it was a "welcome change" while others expect "business as usual" with the leadership shakeup.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company said Intel's board accepted Krzanich's resignation after an ongoing investigation confirmed that Krzanich, who is married, had a previous consensual relationship with an employee, violating the company's non-fraternization policy. Bob Swan, Intel's chief financial officer, was named interim CEO as Intel begins a search for a permanent successor.

One partner said he hoped Krzanich's successor would put more focus on the enthusiast PC market. The personal computer has remained Intel's largest business, but as the overall market has waned in the past several years, Intel has made a push to become a data-centric company.

"They can learn a lot from what AMD had been doing with the enthusiast market," said Wallace Santos, CEO of Maingear, a Kenilworth, N.J.-based system builder that is expected to double sales of its gaming PCs this year. While he said he thought Krzanich did a good job as CEO, he sees the opening for new leadership as "an opportunity to hit the reset button."

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Santos said Intel has been doing a good job overall, but there are a few areas of investment that he doesn't understand, such as Intel's drone business. On the other hand, there are other areas, such as artificial intelligence, where Santos thinks Intel has been making smart bets.

"It seems like they know how to follow the business trends. The important part is that they don't forget to double down on what's working," he said.

Erik Stromquist, president of CTL, a Portland, Ore.-based system builder and distributor of components to the channel and No. 361 on CRN's 2018 Solution Provider 500, said he thinks Intel has been ignoring the channel and saw Krzanich's departure as a "welcome change."

"I think Intel has been distracted and has been spending effort in areas that won't be impactful to their long-term success," he said in an email. "Additionally, I would like to see Intel refocus on the channel, which in my opinion has been neglected."

Stromquist also called out Krzanich's "suspicious stock trades," a reference to the former CEO's sale of Intel stock last November while the company was handling concerns about the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities. The company has previously said the stock sale was based on a prearranged trading program and was not related to the exploits.

Andrew Kretzer, director of sales and marketing at Bold Data Technology, a Fremont, Calif.-based custom system builder, also took issue with Krzanich's stock selloff.

"Personally, I would have thought his selling [of] Intel’s stock prior to the public announcement of their chips’ security concerns would be more of an affront to Intel’s 'values' but apparently they rank their values differently than I would," he said.

Bob Venero, CEO of Holbrook, N.Y.-based Future Tech, an Intel partner and No. 115 on CRN's 2018 Solution Provider 500, said while he doesn't expect a major impact from Krzanich's resignation, the shakeup is another spate of bad news for a company that has been grappling with security vulnerabilities in its hardware and a troubled manufacturing process for its next-generation chips.

"I see it as a black eye in a time when they don't need any more black eyes," he said.

But as long as Intel continues down the path set by Krzanich and keeps open communication with partners and customers, Venero said he thinks the company will be fine.

Kent Tibbils, vice president of marketing of Fremont, Calif.-based ASI Corp., one of Intel's largest distributors, agrees with that and said he doesn't even expect any dramatic changes in the long term.

"Intel's really good about aligning their strategy throughout the levels of management, so it will be business as usual," he said.

Tibbils said he thinks Krzanich did a good job in his tenure as CEO from 2013 to 2018.

"He had a good vision, and I think he did things that had Intel's entire customer base in mind. I don't feel like any particular group was left out," he said.