Intel Israel president Mooly Eden was interviewed by "Globes" yesterday following yesterday's press conference to mark 40 years of Intel activities in Israel.
President of Intel Israel, Intel Chairman Andy Bryant said two months ago, on analyst day, that the company had “lost its way,” and that he was “personally embarrassed.” How does it feel to be spoken about this way?
Eden: “One of the company values is ‘intellectual integrity,’ and every company has periods in which it functions better, and periods of change. It’s no secret that, beyond what we did, and this is a company with $53 billion in sales per year, when you look at market trends, you expect us to be much faster and more flexible. As for tablets - I was at Steve Jobs’ launch of the iPad, and no one believed it would be such a success - Intel should have been at the cutting edge of the new revolution. The fact is, the market started growing, and Intel entered late. What Andy said was, ‘Guys, we missed some things, and that shouldn’t have happened.”
Intel is making greater advances in the mobile market, and also plans to speed up development cycles of new products, and to rely more on third-party technology. Where does the Israeli development center stand in terms of these trends?
“I think that the centrality of the development center here will be maintained. This is the largest development center outside the US, and we need to take risks, and make more acquisitions. When you want speed up the pace, you can’t get left behind. We will continue developing processors like the Skylake [code name for micro-architecture that is expected to enter the market in 2015-2016], but we will also ask ourselves what can be done to speed up development.
“Twenty years ago, it was easy. We could calculate what a processor would be able to do in a few years at a linear growth rate. Today, the growth of demands is exponential. Today, you need to prepare ahead of expectations, and you need to know what not to do, and not just what to do. We must move forward with numerous projects in parallel, and we will need to know not to throw good money after the bad, and how not to waste resources. We will need to make our projections with many more risks.”
In keeping with this, the company announced a week and a half ago that it is halting preparation of the Fab 42 plant in Arizona, which was planned in 2011, with an investment of $5 billion, because their expectations had been too optimistic. It begs the questions of whether you are not being too optimistic about other plants as well.
“What we see here is the biggest risk taking in the world. Our CEO sits there, and must decide whether to make a $6 billion investment to serve markets that have not been established yet, and products that are not yet clear. I don’t envy him, and sometimes adjustments are necessary to meet these expectations.”
Two or three years ago, it was clear that Intel led the computing world. The grant for the next plant will be given to a company that may no longer be a leader in a few years. Does this affect the requests for grants from the Israeli government?
“Undoubtedly, it is the government’s job to look at the investments being made - at the immediate and indirect contributions - and it is the government’s responsibility to look at the investment and decide that it is correct.”
How do you feel about David (Dadi) Perlmutter’s resignation? You worked together for more than 30 years, and there was a sense that there was a senior executive who was “looking out for” Israeli interests.
“I feel great. Dadi was at Intel for 30 years and reached a very senior position. The company reached a crossroads, and chose a different CEO, and he made his decisions. I am convinced that we will see his contributions in other avenues. I think it is natural; people make way, and the next generation grows.
“You need to remember that a huge development center, like the one in Israel, gets credit for achievement. But we are raising a new generation, and we have, in Israel, people in key positions, with six vice presidents, and we have points of influence. But no matter how political you get, it won’t help, the results make it happen. It is good that we have people in key positions, but even Dadi should have focused more on the company, and less on Israel.”
In the past, you expressed strong opinions about chances of the next plant not being here. Now that it is on the agenda, how do you feel about it?
“We are in competition with other places and I very much want it to be here. I really believe that Intel’s contribution to Israel is significant, and, in general, the role of international companies is critical. I would want to see greater competition and more international companies, including our competitors, including ARM - write that down. It is important, and, as an Israeli citizen I will do what I can to make it happen. I would be happy to see exports grow, and Intel’s relative proportion shrink. And if it doesn’t happen? We will do our best to make do without, but, in my opinion, it would be a very big loss.”
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on January 27, 2014
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