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Intel Corp.'s PC, Internet of Things Chiefs Bail

By Ashraf Eassa - Apr 4, 2016 at 9:00PM

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More executive departures for the chip giant.

Image source: Intel. 

Following reports that Intel's (INTC -0.79%) mobile chief, Aicha Evans, handed in her resignation, the chip giant announced that Doug Davis and Kirk Skaugen, the individuals who currently head up the company's Internet of Things and Client Computing Group efforts, will also be leaving the company.

Davis appears to simply be retiring
In a statement found on Intel's website, the company says that Davis will "retire from Intel at the end of 2016." The chipmaker claims Davis "would like to devote more time to family, friends, and other interests." The release goes on to praise the work Davis has done in his role and confirm that he will "continue in his role until a successor is named and an orderly transition is complete."

No red flags here; this seems like a straightforward case of a successful, longtime Intel employee looking to retire.

Skaugen, on the other hand...
Although Davis appears to be retiring, Skaugen is apparently jumping ship for a position elsewhere, as evidenced by the following wording: "Kirk Skaugen has also decided to leave Intel for his next career opportunity."

It's clear Skaugen is leaving for an opportunity elsewhere; it will be interesting to see where he pops up.

The "problem" with Skaugen's departure is that it leaves some uncomfortable questions open. Did he leave simply out of frustration after Intel appointed Dr. Venkata Renduchintala to run the Client and Internet of Things Businesses and Systems Architecture group above him? Or was Skaugen unwilling to continue to fight the seemingly uphill battle that is trying to run the company's PC business in a PC market that's seemingly in perpetual decline?

Taking Skaugen's place will be Navin Shenoy, previously the general manager of the company's "mobility client platforms." He also oversaw the company's efforts in both wired and wireless connectivity, including Wi-Fi, Ethernet, and Thunderbolt technologies. 

Don't take these executive departures lightly
Over the last several months, nearly all of the heads of Intel's major business units have left or have announced their intentions to leave. Bill Holt, who runs the company's Technology and Manufacturing Group, plans to retire. Aicha Evans, head of wireless, is apparently leaving. Now the heads of the company's Internet of Things and Client Computing Group are on the way out.

Clearly, not all is well at Intel, if top executives are either being pushed out or are jumping ship for greener pastures.

My guess is that Intel's non-Data Center businesses and groups are going to face some difficult challenges over the next couple of years. Intel needs to find a way to stem the declines in its client group, either by helping to catalyze the PC industry or by diversifying its revenue within the client computing group by attacking different and/or new opportunities (though in the two obvious ones that come to mind -- smartphones and tablets -- Intel has done extremely poorly).

Intel also needs to find a way to reassert itself as a leader in chip manufacturing technology, as its lead is seems increasingly threatened by major contract chip manufacturers such as TSMC (TSM -3.04%).

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