Intel Rebranding and Its Corporate Culture

MSNBC features a Business Week Online report on Intel and the changes the company is making.Chip

For a while now, I have been wondering about the corporate culture at Intel (I have friends working there) and the company always struck me as the anti-thesis of a high-tech company (gourmet food at Google, the cubicle culture at Pixar etc.). I have never talked to an Intel Engineer who loved his or her job (and these are the top-dogs at Intel according to the article). They will all mention that pay is good (it is), but they don’t like (some willingly say ‘hate’) going to work. Now, apparently, this might change. Intel turnover rate for new employees is huge – the culture emphasizes results more than anything – people are sometimes on call with four or five pagers during the night. Basically, the individual has no role in this culture – just results matter. Now if that would change, I would believe that Intel could also be far more inovative and the strategy could work. If the interal culture does not change, I am not sure Intel will succeed in this rebranding and expansion campaign.

Inside Intel – BusinessWeek Online – MSNBC.com

Intel’s culture is changing, too. Under the charismatic Grove, who was CEO from 1987 to 1998 and then chairman until 2005, the company was a rough-and-tumble place. Grove’s motto was “Only the paranoid survive,” and managers frequently engaged in “constructive confrontation,” which any outsider would call shouting. Engineers ruled the roost. Grove and Barrett also instituted the practice of doling out cash to PC makers for joint advertising, which Intel rivals have alleged blocks them from some markets.

Besides that, the article does a good job explaning why Intel is switching gears. To me, it seems like the right thing to do. Intel can continue going on as it has for a long time, but eventually, AMD and others will catch up. Now, Intel is moving into digital health monitoring, putting more emphasis on wireless communication, and hiring ethnographers to study how people in China use technology (okay – maybe they could have just asked some of their Chinese employess…). Its an impressive portfolio overall. I do not fully buy into the Viiv brand, yet, but lets wait for the CES keynote to argue about that.

Update: Techdirt also has some good observations about the whole affair. I think this:

And, the new strategy doesn’t really sound all that different — just expanding the efforts to put Intel chips into a lot of other products

sums things up pretty nicely. Maybe this is meant to look more of a “bet the company” move than it really is.

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