Andy Grove Talks About His New Learning Curve

Andrew S Grove has made his mark as a manager, but
now he’s turning himself back into a student. The Chairman and Chief Executive of Intel
Corp. announced on March 26 that he will hand over the CEO job to Intel President Craig R
Barrett in May. The change, Grove hopes, will let him spend more time studying the
computer industry-and helping to guide the evolution of technology and public policy. For
Intel, freeing Grove to drink up technology trends could help it avoid missteps like its
slow response to the rise of sub $-1000 PCs. On March 31, BUSINESSWEEK correspondent Andy
Reinhardt talked to Grove about how the executive plans to spend his future.

Why step down as CEO now?
I’ve been CEO for 11 years, and there is a repetition and sameness to the rhythm of the
job. Just think how many operations reviews, financial reviews, routine meetings, demand
forecasts etc. I have sat through. I was ready to change my routing. I’ll have more leeway
in my schedule.

What will you do with your extra
time?

It’s a rearranging of priorities: I can meet somebody that otherwise I might not have had
time to, or I can go look at somebody’s work that otherwise I wouldn’t have. I don’t know
exactly what I’m going to do-I just know that I’m craving that kind of flexibility.

What topics are you especially
interested in these days?

The future of networked computing, especially in businesses that haven’t used it, and what
we can do to remove obstacles to using it. Understanding the potential of various
technologies, and the deployment of those technologies en masse. I can talk casually about
any of those subjects, but my understanding is not that deep. I’m painting a canvas with
my eyes closed.

What else do you plan to explore?
Commerce, marketing, information, entertainment-all of these things are going to be
impacted by the presence of a billion connected computers. What needs to be done to reach
that point sooner rather than later? Bandwidth has to be generated and dispersed to
individuals and small companies. I want to understand this better. I also want to have a
better appreciation for what type of applications will be deployed as this connected PC
world gets rolled out. The only way I can ever find out about those is by hanging around
with people inside and outside the company who are into application development.

Can you think of an example when
Intel would have benefited from better trend-spotting?

We were an early player in cable modems, which had the potential to deliver bandwidth to
consumers. We were one of the first ones to demonstrate working cable modems five years
ago, but I don’t think we understood the task in its entirety. I would like to understand
what it takes to do these things a little better.

Are you also putting more emphasis
on cultivating software developers?

Absolutely, we’ve done a very good job with game developers, historically. We put
technology, muscle, sometimes money, into funding advanced games. I’d now like to see that
type of activity replicated in different fields, especially in applications pertinent to
small and medium-size businesses.

Will you get more involved in
policy?

Yes. These changes [from connected PCs], as they permeate society in the US and abroad,
will be so significant that they’re going to be an increasing focus of regulations and
governmental actions. I think we, as an industry, have a responsibility to guide that.

Your first-quarter earnings warning
suggests changes ahead. Will Intel still get most of its revenues from PC microprocessors
in five years?

Yes. There’s an enormous temptation to take the events of a quarter and extrapolate them.
But it’s wrong when a couple of bumps in the road lead you to question the essentials. I
think the development of low-end computers is going to be an important element of the
market, but it’s just one element. There will also be performance PCs and mobile PCs, and
servers will be the underpinnings of all of them.

Copyrighted
BusinessWeek
April 13, 1998

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