Why Is Intel Corporation President Renee James Leaving?

Intel recently surprised the tech world when it revealed that president and head of the software group Renee James is leaving the company. The reason given was to “pursue an external CEO role.” Most folks accepted the reason proffered, but Andy Patrizio from IT World is not buying it, and believes other reasons might be responsible for the exit of James.

Lack of growth in software to blame?

James will be with Intel until January in order to help with the transition. Patrizio argues that it is unusual for executives to reveal their future plan, so with James leaving to pursue a top role in other company, he smells something fishy. Patrizio also notes that she was considered by many to be the next CEO after Krzanich.

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When you think of software, Intel’s name hardly comes to mind because it is known for making chips. That’s why the McAfee’s purchase was definitely among the  worst decisiosn approved by Otellini, the ex-CEO of Intel and the board of directors. The move has clearly hurt Intel finncially, and could be the biggest reason for James departure.

According to Christopher Danely, a Citibank research analyst, James’s departure is a positive for Intel as she wasn’t up to the mark in her main responsibility. Danely said she was also responsible for the McAfee acquisition in 2011 for $7.7 billion, which was only profitable to McAfee’s shareholders. Over the last three years, the chip maker’s software business showed a very slow growth of just 2.5% CAGR. Her departure is a positive, “due to the lack of growth and low profitability of its software business under the leadership of James,” said Danely.

Diversity problem

There’s the issue of diversity to be considered, says the report. James was one of the biggest brains behind Silicon Valley’s diversity push. She was arguably the  face for Intel’s efforts to bring more females into engineering and tech roles at the company. A few months back, Intel committed $300 million to training and recruiting females. “If she’s really bailing out on that to look for a better job, that doesn’t send a great message to those who would follow in her footsteps,” said Patrizio.

From a global perspective, women executives are having a difficult time, says Patrizio. James is out at Intel, Ginni Rometty is facing bif problems at IBM, Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer is constantly criticized in the media. Safra Catz and Sheryl Sandberg are carrying the load for female executives in the valley, says the report.