Swan out, Gelsinger in as Intel's new CEO

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VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger will take over as Intel's CEO on Feb. 15 after current CEO Bob Swan steps down. (Pixabay)

There's a changing of the guard at Intel with VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger replacing current CEO Bob Swan on Feb.15. Gelsinger will also join the Intel board of directors upon assuming the CEO role.

VMware said Gelsinger will step down as CEO on Feb. 12 and that Zane Rowe, VMware’s chief financial officer, has been appointed interim CEO. VMware said Gelsinger would keep his seat on the company's board of directors.  VMware’s board of directors is initiating a global executive search process to name a permanent CEO.

The fact that Gelsinger is retaining his seat on VMware's board seems to be an indicator that he is leaving on good terms with Michael Dell, who is chairman of the board.

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“I speak for the VMware board of directors, executive management and employees in expressing our gratitude to Pat for his leadership at VMware, and we are thrilled to keep him on as a member of the Board,” Dell said in a statement. “As CEO for the past eight years, Pat led the company’s tremendous growth and expansion and built a solid foundation for future innovation. Zane has been a key strategic partner to Pat during this time of growth. His deep knowledge of the company and strong relationships will lead the team well through the transition period.”

Rowe credited Gelsinger for almost tripling VMware's revenue to nearly $12 billion during his tenure as CEO.

Gelsinger worked at Intel for 30 years starting in 1979 and was named as its first CTO in 2000. Gelsinger served as Intel's CTO for five years before being named president and COO of EMC Information Infrastructure Products at EMC. Prior to its merger with Dell, EMC owned VMware.

Gelsinger played a pivotal role in evolving VMware from its virtual machine roots into a company that now takes on the likes of Cisco. Gelsinger, who was named as VMware's CEO in 2012, transformed VMware into a company that's now providing services and applications across core virtualization, Kubernetes and cloud-native-based cloud, networking, 5G/edge and security.

"Pat Gelsinger was the heart and soul of VMware," said Scott Raynovich, the founder and chief analyst of Futuriom. "He helped build the cloud Goliath and spearheaded VMware’s expansion into Kubernetes, multi-cloud and security with some very savvy acquisitions."

"He’s going to be missed by VMware, and they will have a hard time replacing him. It will be interesting to see the impact he can have in turning Intel around.”

RELATED: VMware snags Carbon Black and Pivotal for $4.8B

During Gelsinger's tenure as CEO, VMware was active in buying companies such as SD-WAN vendor VeloCloud, Kubernetes company Pivotal Software and security vendors such as Carbon Black and Octerine, among others.

"Gelsinger is one of the most respected CEOs in technology and has helmed the company during a critical time for expansion of VMware beyond compute virtualization," said AvidThink founder and analyst Roy Chua. "Some of the key highlights at VMware during his eight-plus-year tenure that come to mind include: driving VMware to be a force for virtual networking post the Nicira acquisition—which happened just before he took the reins—expanding into mobile and security with AirWatch, the Pivotal efforts (spin out, merger) around the move into Kubernetes, containers and analytics, a serious move into security with the Carbon Black acquisition, and, of course, the VeloCloud acquisition and entry into SD-WAN/SASE.

"VMware's also moving quickly into 5G with open RAN and continuing to drive into the telco market with their long-term investments in NFV, as evidenced by multiple telco wins, most notably Dish Network recently. There's plenty more, including their Tanzu platform and move into multi-cloud orchestration, which includes containers and virtual machines, and also their embracing of public clouds with their AWS partnerships as well as Azure and GCP too."

RELATED: VMware sues former executive who left to become Nutanix's CEO

Gelsinger's departure marked the second recent exit from VMware's executive leadership team. Last month, Nutanix announced it had hired VMware COO Rajiv Ramaswami as its new CEO and president. Later in December, VMware filed a lawsuit in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Santa Clara that accused Ramaswami of "material and ongoing breaches of his legal and contractual duties and obligations to VMware."

RELATED: Dell and VMware (again) mull spin-off but nothing imminent

Stemming from Dell's blockbuster deal to buy EMC in 2016 for $67 billion, VMware is 81% owned by Dell. Over the years, Dell and VMware have kicked the tires on spinning off VMware, but it has never come to fruition.

Gelsinger has said a spin-off could be value-enhancing to VMware and its stockholders and that any potential spin-off would not occur prior to September of this year.