The Unofficial Intel Blog

Poking the beehive with a stick

Friday, March 31, 2006

Anonymity and other vice$

I drink beer. I don't tell my boss how much beer I drink. I have sex. I don't tell my boss how much sex I have. I have feelings about my company. I do tell my boss about my feelings about my company - but only because to a certain extent we share those feelings.

However, Intel is pretty small for a 100K person company, and there are those who do not share my feelings and are judgemental. Look in the last post's comments for some examples of that. So rather than jeopardize my "next" job, or a working relationship I may have with one of those people it is wiser to perhaps wrap a blanket around my head and scramble the tone of my voice. I'd write in a different language if I could.

Does my identity or those of the people who kindly contribute to the conversation matter? Would it matter if I am actually Andy Glew or Andy Grove? Well, maybe the latter would earn me a spot atop the blogs. But what I am saying and my intentions are unchanged whether anonymous or not. Internally, I am not anonymous either. People who know me know what I think. We talk about this stuff. Anonymity here is a shield against quick judgement and the backlash of those who view criticism as a sword rather than a scalpel.

Failing to talk about what can and should be improved is to ignore an opportunity. The fab does not have people sitting around ignoring the fact that a process is out of control. They monitor and fix it. That is their job. They aren't saying "Bad fab!" You naughty fab!", they just say it has a problem and quickly and dispassionately fix it. The business processes at Intel are out of control. I'm not saying "Bad Intel! You naughty Intel!". Anyone who imagines that I am is delusional. I am saying that there is evidence that Intel is losing its lead. It is losing its spirit. It is losing its culture. They are all tied together. And I am losing money. ALL BAD. Lets fix it, and not by cutting corners on business cards.


At March 31, 2006 10:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymity provides protection for those who would otherwise face repercussions if the publicly exercised their right to free speech.

If anyone for a moment believes that there are not any managers at Intel who would retaliate against people who spoke out against problems, they are dreaming. The culture of retribution is well documented, and thousands of people have been victimized by it over the years.

What do you think the whole BE/IR process, written warning, CAP and other processes are all about? They are designed to build a written case (recognizable in a court of law) against employees who are designated to be "undesirable." And you can be tagged this way for ANY NUMBER of reasons -- not just on-the-job performance.

On the Josh blog, there have been constructive comments about how Intel can regain its edge. This should put the "stop bitching, come up with solutions" people in their place. I happen to agree with all of those comments.

In the past few years, Intel has reached a point of maturity and presence in the industry .... it has crossed a line that it can never go back across. It is large, and it is now a "legacy" company. Legacy companies are generally more concerned with PRESERVING their revenue flow and product dominance rather than INNOVATING and CREATING new markets. That's what startups and smaller, hungrier firms do. Intel is no longer a startup, and has certainly shown that it is no longer hungry.

That all ended the day that Andy Grove resigned as CEO. Hunger, paranoia, call it what you want. Intel doesn't have it any more.

It's not a bad place to be, I mean Microsoft is in the same place. So was IBM before it reinvented itself, so was Digital, so is HP, and many others. These companies are revenue machines, faithfully turning out profits for their shareholders. But any semblance of innovation is totally gone. The game is all about milking what has come before.

At March 31, 2006 9:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beer, huh? Maybe you're not Josh after all... :)

At April 01, 2006 9:44 AM, Blogger Josh Bancroft said...

Anonymous #2, ha! :-)

Anonymous #1, I feel the same way, about Intel being/becoming a "legacy" company. I feel like the stuff we make is just a commodity. We've become like the power company - everyone needs our stuff, but they don't really get excited about it. Buying computers is just a tax you pay to do business, and whether they have Intel or AMD inside, most people just want something that works, and is cheaper than the other one.

There are some great posts in the last week or two over on Hugh McLeod's blog (warning: some NSFW language) about "de-commoditization". Separating yourself from the competition. It's what my gut tells me that Intel needs to do.

Keep the conversation going! :-)

At April 01, 2006 4:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

(This is the first commenter, back again)

There is nothing wrong with being a legacy company, as long as you are honest with yourself and your customers about what you want to be. Many companies have preserved and even grown revenue streams on legacy products for many years, and maintain supreme profitability doing so. Intel is well suited to doing this because of the process tweaks, die shrinks, etc. that enable ever-better efficiency. I mean, we still make embedded 386 products that go into lots of different products (RIM Blackberres, traffic lights, etc.). These 386s cost pennies or less yet fulfill a vital role in our society to power lots of everyday stuff out there.

The problem is endemic with large, maturing companies: eventually they become complacent, lose their way, and they begin to rest on their laurels. It happens to every company in every industry.

Why is it that companies like AMD have huge stock growth and P/E multiples of 100+, and Apple with huge stock growth and splits over the past few years, while Intel has remained stagnant with a 19+ dollar stock and 12-14 P/E? It's because Intel has basically ceased to innovate in the "OGA" manner that it once did. Rather Intel is just keeping up with the rest of the industry. Sure we introduce processes earlier than everyone else, but they catch up within 6-12 months. It's not like process improvements are an Intel secret that Intel can leverage and exclude the rest of the industry on.

Intel has no fire, no drive to excel, to really "take it" to the competition, to LEAD like it once did.

More in next post...

At April 01, 2006 4:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

... continuation ....

What other companies have done is to clean house and start with new management, from the top down. In the case of IBM, they brought in Gerstner and got rid of much of the "home grown" inbred executive staff at the top (though Palmisano, the current CEO, is home-grown).

Since Andy left everyday management of the company in 1997, basically things have gotten complacent in a creeping manner. I haven't seen this process abate with PSO's ascencion into the top job.

The jury is still out on Eric Kim; I believe he has done some good things in marketing, but the vast majority of the heavy lifting has yet to come. Creating a new logo and slogan hasn't done much (nor should it have) to improve Intel's image in the industry. Our advertising this year has been "underwhelming" at best (I'm talking about the Built In and "laps" ads).

Bottom line is that our marketing isn't "breakout" work that is rising above the rest of the market clutter out there. I mean, look what Apple did when Jobs came back, with its "Think Different" campaign. And it has continued this with the iPod advertising. The style of the ads hasn't changed, hasn't really aged, and is very integrated and memorable no matter what the media is (billboards, TV, print, etc.).

There have been a couple of corporate marketing "reorgs" since Eric Kim came aboard and yet I have seen little to no positive effect of our new marketing approach in helping to stem the slide of market share to AMD in the server and desktop space. My sense is that yet another "marketing reorg" is about to take place, again which will have little effect on things...especially the stock price.

I believe that the board is going to have to bring in an outsider to take the company in a new direction. It will take 2-3 years for them to reach this decision, after the stock continues to stagnate at current levels and market share continues to slide in multiple markets (including the once-thought-to-be-unassailable notebook market).

BTW, the ViiV strategy is a complete joke. Nobody on the inside of Intel knows what this stands for, AT ALL. if no one internally knows what it is, how can we expect our partners (and more importantly customers) to know what it is?

The pending ViiV flop is the next iteration of the "WebOutfitter" flop that coincided with the launch of the Pentium 3 some years back. Anyone remember that boondoggle of marketing? Ugh.

At April 03, 2006 10:20 AM, Blogger sactoheath said...

Bad Pentrino. Naughty Pentrino. Naughty...naughty.....ooooh naughty pentrino. a little flushed there for a moment.

As one of your non-anonymous responders, I don't think you've done anything in violation of external posting aren't sharing information that isn't pretty much readily who cares if you're anonymous when you post it.

You actually sound like me sometimes....bad heath....naughty naughty heath.

But I rarely, if ever, drink beer, so I knew instantly that you weren't me when you wrote that.

At April 03, 2006 10:19 PM, Blogger PentrinoVI said...

The real question heath, is are you Josh? In a certain sense we are all Josh.

But yeah, I'm (as Andy Bryant used to say) "Keeping it legal" even if I am anonymous - that is if you can imaging being both Josh and anonymous without your head exploding.

Intel has lawyers. They can squash you. I don't like being squashed. I don't like to tempt.

At April 04, 2006 10:25 AM, Blogger sactoheath said...

i'd have to say i'm not josh. at least, i'm not aware of being josh.

i'm actually rarely aware of being heath.

At April 04, 2006 2:35 PM, Blogger PentrinoVI said...

>i'm actually rarely aware of being heath.

And you say you don't drink beer?

At April 05, 2006 7:14 PM, Blogger Posty said...

These two articles should be required reading for all of Intel (especially management).

Intel bogged down by multiple missteps

Intel's obsession with marchitecture is hiding real problems

Say what you wish about the Inq or Charlie Demerjian, but he knows his stuff. Ignore it at your own risk.

At October 15, 2007 6:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mood sucks at Intel. Read the blog at


Post a Comment

<< Home