Intel reportedly was in discussions with Hewlett-Packard's top PC executive about taking a senior management position with the giant chip maker, a move some saw as Intel going outside the company to expand the list of potential candidates to fill the CEO slot when Paul Otellini eventually retires.
According to a Wall Street Journal report March 21, Intel had been speaking to Todd Bradley, executive vice president of HP's Personal Systems Group. Bradley, who had been considered a top candidate for HP's CEO job last year when Mark Hurd was forced to resign following questions over personal misconduct, earlier this month opted to stay with the PC maker, the Wall Street Journal said, citing anonymous sources.
The HP CEO job eventually went to former SAP chief Leo Apotheker.
Spokespeople for both HP and Intel declined to comment, according to the WJS.
The courting of Bradley appears to be a reflection on the current state of Intel management, particularly given Otellini's future. The CEO is 60 and is expected to retire when he turns 65. He is the fifth CEO in Intel's history, and like his predecessors, Otellini came up through the ranks at the chip maker.
However, over the past two years, Intel has seen some significant changes in its executive lineup. In September 2009, longtime Intel executive Pat Gelsinger, who had headed up Intel's core processing business, left after almost three decades with the company, taking a high-profile job with storage vendor EMC.
That move set off a management reorganization within Intel that included elevating Sean Maloney, another longtime Intel executive, and David "Dadi" Perlmutter to lead the company's newly created Intel Architecture Group. Analysts also saw Maloney's promotion as an indication that Intel wanted to position him to possibly succeed Otellini as CEO.
However, last year Maloney suffered a stroke and only returned to the company in January, working part-time. It's still unclear when Maloney will be able to resume his position on a full-time basis. An Intel spokesperson said Maloney, who has been with Intel since 1982, is undergoing speech therapy and continues to improve.
The spokesperson also said there is no rush to find a successor for Otellini, given that his retirement is still five years away.
"We've got a CEO who is in his prime," she told the Wall Street Journal. "There's a lot of time to groom a lot of different people."
Still, analysts said companies like Intel tend to want to have a succession plan in place well before the current CEO leaves.
This also comes at a time when Intel is looking to expand its reach beyond its core PC and server chip business, pushing aggressively into such areas as smartphones, tablets and embedded devices. Otellini has said Intel, with its growing portfolio of energy-efficient Atom chips, will become a major player in the burgeoning tablet space now dominated by chips based on designs from ARM Holdings. Intel-based tablets are expected to begin hitting the market in earnest later this year, followed by Atom-powered smartphones.