Pat Gelsinger says he couldn't resist leading Intel's 'great turnaround'

Former VMware CEO was initially in talks to join Intel's board of directors before conversation "flipped"

The Intel logo on a white flag

Incoming Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger has said his decision to return to the chipmaker was partly due to the attraction of leading one of the "great turnarounds" in tech. 

The departing VMware CEO made the comments on the Virtually Speaking Podcast, where he also gave advice for his yet-to-be-named successor.  

Gelsinger's return is seen as a massive opportunity for Intel to reverse its fortunes after years of sluggish performance and production delays. Along with intimate knowledge of the firm, he brings a technical background and an impressive record as the CEO of VMware

Gelsinger said he was initially in talks to join Intel's board of directors but that conversation "flipped" just before Christmas and, instead, became about replacing Bob Swan as the chipmaker's CEO. His decision to go back was also supported by Michael Dell, who Gelsinger quoted as saying: "Yeah, go help them". 

"Things had happened very rapidly and now it's 'OK, the company had stumbled, can we create one of the great turnarounds for this great technology company?'" Gelsinger said. "Yeah, I think I can play a part in that and the board was entirely united in calling me to the roll." 

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As for the now-vacant position at VMware, Gelsinger said the search for a new CEO was already underway and that the cloud company has drawn up a list of 'good' candidates. Some analysts have predicted the appointment will come from within but there is also a suggestion that COO Sanjay Poonen could potentially take the helm.

Gelsinger has some advice for whoever does take on the role of VMware CEO. 

"The plan is clear," he said. "The pathway that we laid out, on the cloud journey, the container journey, and the SaaS journey, get em' done. Get em' done faster, just lean into the other side of that and if those happen faster, every aspect of the company is better."

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