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Craig Barrett, Chairman of the Board, Intel

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  • Craig Barrett, chairman of the board of Intel speaks in The Boardroom
  • He has been at the head of the company for almost a decade
  • He steered the company through the bursting of the dot-com bubble
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(CNN) -- One might call him the "Chairman of the Chips."

Craig Barrett, chairman of the board of computer chip maker Intel

Craig Barrett, chairman of the board of computer chip maker Intel speaks to Maggie Lake in The Boardroom.

Craig Barrett has been leading Intel with a steady hand for almost a decade, first as CEO and now as Chairman of the Board. He has seen the tech giant through thick and thin: the thickness of wallets during the dot-com bubble, and the thinness of demand when that bubble burst.

But now Intel is on steady ground, holding its place as the world's largest chip-maker. He sat down with CNN's Maggie Lake in The Boardroom to discuss how he kept Intel on top when times got tough.

Lake: Do you think Intel is a different company now than it was before the bursting of the tech bubble?

Barrett: Probably the biggest difference is our worldwide influence, or the impact. We do more business outside the U.S. today than ever before and the international business is growing.

Lake: What did you learn as CEO, how to steer the company through those times?

Barrett: Regardless of how deep the depression, we know that we always have to invest our way out, we don't save our way out of the recession. New products are lifeblood, so you have to keep up the R&D stream, you have to keep up the new products, the new technology machine, keep that going full speed ahead.

Lake: A lot of people are critical when you do that when times are tough though, they want to see you hoard some money. You came under some fire for that didn't you?

Barrett: Well, there were a few negative comments made that we should be having massive layoffs; we ought to cut our capital spend; we ought to cut our R&D spending, but in fact back in the '03-'04 timeframe, when in fact the markets started to rebound, we had the new products, the new technology in place.

Lake: AMD is much smaller, but it's stealing market share, how does Intel ultimately win that? Is it going to come down to pricing?

Barrett: We win by being technology leaders. It's the only way you win in our business. The simplest measure is that you look at January and then December the same year. The revenue in December (is) 90 percent from the products that weren't there in January. So unless you have that constant flow of new products, You can't be successful.

Lake: Now when you look at your background you obviously have a passion for the technology, you don't just come from a sales and marketing background. You could have stayed in academia and yet you didn't, you made that transition to management, CEO and ultimately a leadership role. How hard was that? What was that learning curve like for you because they can be very different worlds.

Barrett: Well it was on the job training, because I had never had a single marketing or business course in my life. I was educated as an engineer, I taught at Stanford engineering school for 10 years.

But you know the core of our business is in fact technology and I love the technology and I think that that's helped me in the business and if you really love what you do and you just want to get to work every morning and you want to be successful then I think the rest follows.

Lake: Do you think America is losing its edge when it comes to being competitive in these fields?

Barrett: There's no question that the trend is away from America as the only dominant source. We still have the best research universities -- the Stanfords, the MITs, the University of California campuses -- we still have the best research universities in the world. But the rest of the world is catching up from an education standpoint and from a research standpoint.

Lake: What does that mean for a corporation like Intel, does that mean more operations move to those parts of the world?

Barrett: It means, to be internationally competitive we have to hire the best and the brightest wherever they reside. We have operations in Russia, we have operations in India and we have operations in China, Malaysia, the Philippines, around the world, but we're trying to attract the best talent wherever it resides. We have to be competitive.

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Lake: What is your legacy to intel and technology, do you think?

Barrett: We grew through the '80s and '90s to become the world's largest semi conducting company, by far, we are still the world's largest semi conducting company and I like being number one, that's a good legacy to live with as well. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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