Intel’s board of directors selected its interim CEO and former chief financial officer Robert Swan to be its next permanent leader, a surprise selection after a wide ranging seven-month search that reviewed internal and external candidates.
The choice of Swan, who only joined Intel in 2016, marks a change of direction for the giant chipmaker which has previously been led by longtime veterans. Previous CEO Brian Krzanich, who resigned last June over a consensual relationship he had with an employee, spent more than 30 years at Intel. Swan had repeatedly said he was not a candidate for the permanent position, but in an email to Intel employees on Thursday said he “jumped at the opportunity” to take the lead role.
Intel’s (INTC) stock price, which had been about unchanged over the past year, dropped 2% after the company announced Swan’s selection on Thursday morning.
The appointment comes at a tough time for Intel, which is coping with a stagnant PC market, a small position in mobile chips, and renewed competition from rivals including Advanced Micro Devices and Nvidia. Under Krzanich, Intel repeatedly had to delay moving its manufacturing operations from 14 nanometer technology to the more advanced 10 nanometer scale.
Swan alluded to the delay in his email to employees. “Our execution must improve,” he wrote. “And it will. Our customers are counting on us.”
Swan started his career at General Electric, then served as CFO at Internet startup Webvan Group, CFO at eBay (EBAY), and a partner at private equity firm General Atlantic before joining Intel as CFO in October 2016. Swan’s finance background sets him apart from peers like AMD (AMD) CEO Lisa Su and Nvidia (NVDA) CEO Jensen Huang, who have semiconductor engineering backgrounds. Shares of AMD rose 4% and Nvidia’s stock gained 1% on Thursday.