Intel CEO Otellini to retire in May 2013

Wow, what is it with high-profile tech executives leaving lately? On the heels of Scott Forstall's departure from Apple and Steven Sinofsky stepping down at Microsoft, Intel CEO Paul Otellini has announced that he, too, is going to be leaving his post.

In this case, Intel says Otellini "has decided to retire." Otellini, who is 62 years old, states in the press release, "After almost four decades with the company and eight years as CEO, it's time to move on and transfer Intel's helm to a new generation of leadership." Otellini goes on to say he'll work with the board on a transition path over the next six months, after which he'll remain "available as an advisor to management."

No successor has been named yet. Intel says it plans to look at candidates both inside and outside the company. Perhaps in a related move, the chipmaker says three "senior leaders" have been promoted to executive VP: software chief Renee James, "director of corporate strategy" Stacy Smith, and COO and manufacturing chief Brian Krzanich.

It's always hard to know what goes on behind closed doors in those big corporate conference rooms, but Otellini's departure doesn't seem like a forced move. In fact, the Wall Street Journal, which was tipped off by someone with knowledge of the situation, claims Otellini "surprised the board with his decision to retire."

Otellini has certainly served Intel well. He's steered the company from the dark days of the Pentium 4 to its current position of strength in the PC industry. ARM-based offerings remain a challenge to Intel's leadership in the mobile space, but we finally saw the first Intel-powered smartphones debut earlier this year, and Intel's earnings keep breaking record after record. As Intel says in today's announcement, the company has generated over $100 billion in total cash while Otellini has been in charge.

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