A snippet in the Wall Street Journal (and elsewhere) this morning suggests very interesting executive changes at Intel and EMC will be announced today. Most notably, the reports say Pat Gelsinger will switch from the chip giant to the storage-cum-virtualisation powerhouse.
This may seem humdrum to outsiders but anybody at the inside of Intel will surely see Gelsinger's exit as a major loss. He has been with Intel since 1979 and has been a key figure in driving the relentless development cycle at Intel, most famously perhaps in the 386 and 486 processors that became an essential component of PCs in the 1990s.
More than that, Gelsinger was often Intel's lead in explaining the role of new technologies and the effects those technologies would have in business and consumer worlds. At the annual round of Intel Developer Forum confabs, it was Gelsinger who did more than anybody to relate Intel's positioning and his forthright opinions and gift for soundbites made him hugely popular with journalists and analysts.
Gelsinger frequently shared stage space with Intel CEOs but, publicly at least, always played down suggestions that he could take the reins, saying he was having too much fun in product and engineering roles.
Perhaps,as many successful companies do, Intel ended up with too many potential leaders and Gelsinger's departure could help open the way for Sean Maloney, a Brit who once ran Intel's UK business, to eventually take the top job at Intel HQ in Santa Clara, California.
Like Gelsinger, the fast-talking Maloney exudes a ferocious work ethic and driving ambition. This might stem from a sense of faith: Gelsinger is a practising Christian, active in his congegation, and wrote a book The Juggling Act: Bringing Balance To Your Faith, Family and Work; Maloney has said in interviews that he moved from religion to far-left politics in his youth.
By contrast with Gelsinger, when, several years ago, I asked Maloney if he aspired to the Intel CEO role, he replied that he did not feel comfortable answering the question. That's what you call a leading answer.
But, freed from the ties of Intel, Gelsinger might also be seen as future CEO material at EMC, a company that has moved far beyond its roots in enterprise storage and owns a majority stake in virtualisation software crown jewels property, VMware.