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Grove reflects on Intel's success

As Andy Grove prepares to formally pass the CEO baton to Craig Barrett, he offers CNET's NEWS.COM his thoughts on his past reign and future priorities.

As he prepares to relinquish the CEO's mantle to his successor, Andy Grove offered his thoughts on Intel's successes and missed opportunities in an interview today with NEWS.COM:

NEWS.COM: What was the most significant event for your company and for the industry during your 11 years as CEO?
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Intel's changing of the guard Grove: The most significant thing was the transformation of the company from a broadly positioned, across-the-board semiconductor supplier that did OK to a highly focused, highly tuned producer of microprocessors, which did better than OK.

That focusing and perfecting of the microprocessor development and delivery machinery that is Intel, such that it has managed to get microprocessors into personal computers for over 300 million active pairs of hands--I think that is pretty good.

If you look back on your time as CEO, what was your greatest regret?
I think if I could replay the last ten years, I would have involved Intel in applications development, stimulation of applications development, and working with applications developers more emphatically and sooner, because our growth is limited, to some extent, by application developers.

We have started working on applications development. We have a pretty broad evangelism program now and we are invested in a variety of companies. But we did all this several years later than we could have productively done.

Do you have any thoughts on where your company would be if you had taken these steps earlier?
I can't quantify that because I don't know what we would have done differently. But my view of where we are heading is to this universe of 1 billion connected computers. The way I describe it is, we are 15 percent there. Had we done some of these things earlier we would be further along the way. We wouldn't be 100 percent, but we would be somewhat--depending on the effort and the success of that effort--further along.

What are your priorities for your corporation and for the industry in this new role you will have?
We have to mobilize ourselves to deliver the cost-effective, high-performance building blocks on the client end, server end, and networking end to a global industry, and in an interoperable fashion, to deploy applications that take advantage of that. We also need to involve the use of this infrastructure for...commerce, and for industries like banking and entertainment, which have been hesitant to fully deploy them. So it's a multifaceted job, but one thing: It's making the billion connected computers a reality.

As you look at your next generation of Intel's future executives, what role will you play in their direction? Are you concerned with what that next generation of executives will look like five or ten years from now?
Concerned I'm not, because we have a very strong and deep management team. They have all been around 15 to 25 years. They know each other, they work well with each other. There is a cliché today called "self-directed teams." I think Intel's management can be described as a self-directed team to a very large extent.

But people have to develop, and that gets us to your first question. I'm a teacher. I like working with people and developing them. One of the things that I have done and will continue to do is work with some of these people and make them better and more ready to assume larger responsibilities. So, in that sense, I hope to play a role in developing the group of managers from which Craig [Barrett] and the board will, down the line, choose the next generation of management.