Intel's new CEO? It's Robert Swan, the guy who's been temping in the job

Swan stepped in after former CEO Brian Krzanich resigned in June.

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Robert Swan, who previously served as chief financial officer and interim CEO, is the seventh CEO to lead Intel.

Credit: Intel Corporation

Intel's interim CEO is getting the full-time gig. On Thursday, the chipmaker named Robert Swan as chief executive. 

Swan, who previously served as Intel's chief financial officer, took on the interim position after former CEO Brian Krzanich resigned in June. Krzanich's surprise resignation came after the company's board learned of a past consensual relationship between the married CEO and an Intel employee, which violated company policy. Krzanich had also been dealing with blowback over two massive vulnerabilities (called Spectre and Meltdown) that potentially left chips from Intel, Arm and AMD open to hacking attacks

Swan steps into his role as permanent CEO at a time of many challenges for Intel. The company experienced a strong showing in 2018, thanks to growth in its server chips business, as well as an unexpected boost in personal computer sales. The company is also benefiting from Apple's legal battles with rival chipmaker Qualcomm, which has helped Intel -- long an also-ran in the mobile market -- bring its mobile chips to the latest iPhones, supplanting Qualcomm's.

Despite those strengths, there are already signs the momentum may be slowing. The PC market, for instance, has faced sluggish growth or decline for years, as customers delay new purchases and do more computing on their phones. Also, a resolution between Apple and Qualcomm should cut down on Intel's mobile gravy train. 

Swan will have to navigate these changes, and also figure out where to position Intel for the future. There's no lack of potential tech trends, including smart home, connected cars and augmented reality. The new CEO didn't make a major appearance at this year's CES, the world's largest tech show, instead letting his lieutenants manage Intel's press day presentation.

Swan, finance chief since 2016, will be Intel's seventh CEO in the company's 50 years of existence. Krzanich was CEO for five years and is now CEO of the automotive company CDK Global. Swan was also elected to Intel's board. 

Prior to joining Intel, Swan was the finance chief for eBay for nine years and he continues to serve on the online retailer's board. He was also CFO of Electronic Data Systems and TRW. Swan was also an executive at Webvan, a failed early e-commerce company. He started his career at General Electric, where he worked in senior finance positions for 15 years.

Shares of Intel fell just over 2 percent in trading early Thursday.

Intel said Todd Underwood, the company's vice president of finance, will take on the position of interim CFO while the company searches for a permanent candidate.

First published Jan. 31, 7:25 a.m. PT.
Update, 8:13 a.m. PT: Adds more context and details throughout the story.

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