Partners: Diane Bryant As Intel's Next CEO 'Would Be Refreshing'

Intel partners said Diane Bryant, the company veteran who recently left Google Cloud, would make sense as the semiconductor giant's next CEO, given her data center experience.

Bryant, who was previously Intel's lead data center executive, is among a handful of names that industry observers have highlighted as potential frontrunners for Intel's next CEO. The Santa Clara, Calif.-based tech giant started searching for its next chief executive after its former leader, Brian Krzanich, resigned near the end of June, but the company has not said when it would announce a decision.

Bryant departed Google Cloud as chief operating officer in early July after only seven months with the company. The timing of her departure, which came shortly after Krzanich's departure, has fueled speculation that she may be in the running to take Intel's top post.

"The fact that she's in data center and would focus on Intel's core business would be refreshing," said Marc Harrison, president of Silicon East, a Marlboro, N.J.-based solution provider.

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Intel has historically hired from within for the CEO role, which partners said would qualify Bryant, who joined Intel in 1985 and served as Intel's lead Data Center Group executive before she left in May 2017. An Intel spokesperson said the company is currently not commenting on the CEO search.

"For all intents and purposes, she is an internal person they have familiarity with," said Kent Tibbils, vice president of marketing of Fremont, Calif.-based ASI Corp., an Intel distribution partner.

The Data Center Group has been Intel's fastest-growing business and an integral part of its transformation into a data-centric business. The company's group of data-centric businesses, which also includes the Internet of Things Group and Non-Volatile Memory Solutions Group, grew 25 percent in the first quarter from the previous year while Intel's PC business only increased 3 percent, according to a recent regulatory filing.

"It doesn’t surprise me with her background in data center and focus around the servers so I think that would certainly be something that they're looking at," Tibbils said.

Bryant isn't the only one who is considered a frontrunner. Other potential candidates include Venkata M. Renduchintala, Intel's chief engineering officer; Navin Shenoy, Intel's lead data center executive; and Sanjay Jha, former CEO of Globalfoundries Inc.

Tibbils said that while Bryant may have important data center experience, it will also be important for Intel to have a CEO who can smooth over the company's current manufacturing problems with its next-generation chips. That would make Stacy Smith, Intel's former president of manufacturing operations and sales, a top candidate to tackle those problems for the company.

One potential frontrunner who has been ruled out is Robert Swan, Intel's chief financial officer who is now serving as interim CEO and reportedly told employees he is not interested in the permanent role.

Regardless of who becomes Intel's next CEO, partners said the channel must remain a priority.

"We the channel must remain a focus for Intel or there is no innovation left for IoT, cloud solutions and Data Center," Donna Shepard, executive vice president of Dallas-based solution provider M&A Technology, said in an email.