Intel CEO Brian Krzanich resigns over a past interoffice affair

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Intel CEO, Brian Krzanich Intel

Intel said on Thursday that Brian Krzanich stepped down as the company’s CEO and is no longer on the board of directors. The reason for the immediate departure is a “consensual” relationship with an employee, violating Intel’s policy of keeping your hands to yourself. Filling his shoes for the interim will be chief financial officer Robert Swan. 

“Intel was recently informed that Mr. Krzanich had a past consensual relationship with an Intel employee,” the company said. “An ongoing investigation by internal and external counsel has confirmed a violation of Intel’s non-fraternization policy, which applies to all managers. Given the expectation that all employees will respect Intel’s values and adhere to the company’s code of conduct, the board has accepted Mr. Krzanich’s resignation.” 

While the board hires an executive search firm to find a proper replacement, Swan will take the Intel wheel by working closely with the senior leadership team to manage operations. His past experience includes serving as CEO of Webvan Group Inc., nine years as CFO at eBay, CFO of Electronic Data Systems, and more. His current CFO role at Intel — aside from filling Krzanich’s shoes — includes leading the company’s global finance, IT, and corporate strategy organizations. 

Intel’s board says it has “a robust succession planning process in place” and will seek out a new, permanent CEO from candidates within and outside the company. 

Krzanich, 58, joined Intel as an engineer in 1982. By January 2012, he moved to the role of chief operating officer and helped bring Intel’s products to China. Then in May 2013 he was promoted once again to the role of CEO where he led the company on different paths outside its main processor focus, such as wearables, artificial intelligence, and cloud computing. 

Krzanich came under fire earlier this year for dumping around $11 million worth of Intel stock prior to revealing the Spectre and Meltdown flaws in its processors. He made the sale in November as Intel and manufacturers worked to create patches before the problems were publicly exposed. Defending Krzanich, Intel indicated the sale was unrelated to the Spectre and Meltdown announcement despite share value taking a hit after Krzanich revealed the flaws. 

The sudden resignation is surprising and likely a jolt to the company. Non-fraternization policies are common in businesses, as employers dictate that you can’t mix business with pleasure. But Krzanich’s resignation is a prime example that even the CEO of a company can’t avoid a non-fraternization policy — at least, not at Intel. Speculation indicates that Intel’s board didn’t look the other way due to not wanting additional drama outside the ongoing Spectre/Meltdown fiasco. 

The resignation arrives as longtime Intel partner Microsoft cozies up with Qualcomm with “always connected” Windows 10 PCs. These devices rely on Windows on ARM powered by Qualcomm’s mobile-centric Snapdragon chips. They include 4G LTE connectivity for a constant internet connection and a battery promising more than 20 hours on a single charge. 

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