Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

McAfee Mystery: Intel CEO Prioritizes Security Via Charlie Rose

Posted by Tom Foremski - August 23, 2010

There has been much written about why Intel offered an astonishing $7.7 billion for McAfee, the PC anti-virus maker.

I've been an Intel watcher for more than 25 years and I'm struggling to make sense out of this deal.

I've also been reading other Intel watchers trying to make sense of the deal. The most recent attempt is by Jon Stokes at Ars Technica: Why Intel bought McAfee

His article doesn't answer the headline but here is a fascinating snippet:

At the most recent Intel R&D day, Intel CTO Justin Rattner did a Q&A session with the press in which he was asked something to the effect of, "What do you spend most of your time working on these days?" Rattner didn't hesitate in answering "security."

He then told an anecdote about how he was watching Intel CEO Paul Otellini being interviewed by Charlie Rose, and Otellini told Rose, "I've given our company a charter to make [security] job one." Rattner laughed and told us that this statement seemed to come from out of the blue, and it took him and other Intel execs by surprise. But from that day forward, Rattner was focused on security.

Wow. Is this how Intel's CEO sets priorities within the company? Is this how he communicates Intel strategy? Through Charlie Rose?

Justin Rattner is head of Intel's research labs. You would think that he would already know what his priority should be directly from the top and not from a TV show.

How did Mr Otellini communicate to the company that its charter was "to make security job one"? Yet for one of Intel's top execs, and his colleagues, it came "from out of the blue."

What's going on at Intel? Does anyone at Intel, apart from Mr Otellini, know?


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