To lose one Gelsinger is careless. To lose three is an Intel catastrophe

Analysis We’ll probably never know why Kicking Pat Gelsinger decided to tidy up his desk and move his caravanserai to storage company EMC.

But we can certainly make some educated guesses. Gelsinger was an Intel man through and through – Intel ran through him as if he was a stick of Blackpool rock. I’ve met him many many times and a more loyal Intel employee I’ve never met. He would defend Intel to the death. And now he’s gone to a firm which, let’s face it, offers few of the challenges and opportunities available at Santa Clara.

For Intel, it’s a disaster. When the CEO, Paul Otellini, was appointed to that job, Gelsinger was given the task of bringing him up to date on the technology – a skill that he had in spades. He was also a good ambassador for Intel with the press. While he could have the abrasiveness that is often associated with Intel top executives, he also had a good sense of humor.The regular bets between Gelsinger and c’t editor Andreas Stiller were a delight to learn about. Thirdly, Gelsinger not only loved Intel, he loved new technology and was quick to see the opportunities it could bring not only for his own company but for people generally, because he has a strong humanitarian streak.

So Intel hasn’t lost just one Patrick Gelsinger, it’s lost three, and it’s somewhat of a catastrophe for the chip giant.

Why did Intel go? There’s been speculation for quite some time about the successor to Paul Otellini – and the names in the frames have been those of Sean Maloney and Dadi Perlmutter. Gelsinger was, at one time, tipped to be the next CEO after Craig Barrett stepped down, and it’s clear that he wanted the job. It’s my suspicion that when it was announced there was going to be a re-organization of the executive ranks, Pat Gelsinger just thought to himself there’s little place for me in the Intel of the future.

He’d never really been happy as the head of the enterprise division – a “promotion” which had him have to hear questions about the Itanium, Intel’s ghostly ship which never quite managed to hit an iceberg, like the Titanic, but which somehow sails on manned by a crew of spectres.

When Gelsinger was in charge of the Intel Developer Forum, he really shined at that. It offered him everything he wanted and he just got so fired and wired by these conferences that his enthusiasm for the events shone through.

We wonder if pre-announcements Intel made on Friday about next week’s IDF on future technology was an attempt to head off reporters at the gulch in case they asked awkward questions about Gelsinger?

Truly, IDF won’t be the same without him and it’s hard to think of anyone charismatic enough to replace him, unless another Boy Wonder is coming up the ranks who we haven’t quite recognised yet.  Gelsinger was nurtured in his early days at Intel by Andy Grove, who encouraged him to take a degree, recognized his raw talent, and brought him on inside the firm.

We can only wish Patrick Gelsinger well at EMC. We somehow get the feeling we will bump into him again. Or him into us. He got his “Kicking” nickname because once he kicked me at a Comdex years ago. It became a running joke and everytime we met he’d perform some sort of physical torture on me.

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Intel’s Pat Gelsinger leaves for EMC