Intel Corp Chairman Craig Barrett, the courtly former academic credited with building the company into the world's foremost chip-maker, will retire in May after 35 years at the company.
Barrett, who turned Intel into one of the technology sector's powerhouses and a global household name, is leaving just when the company is slashing jobs, mothballing factories and struggling to sustain growth with IT spending crumbling.
The cost-cutting measures at Intel, which remains the world's top maker of microprocessors used in personal computers, ahead of Advanced Micro Devices, underscore the threat to a technology industry undergoing potentially one of its worst-ever crises.
"When you look at the overall tenure there's a lot to be proud of and a lot was accomplished," said Caris & Co analyst Betsy Van Hees.
"It's definitely a loss that he's stepping down."
Intel, like much of the technology sector, is feeling the pain of the global slowdown and cratering demand for PCs. It just announced plans to cut up to 6,000 jobs, and posted a 23 per cent decline in revenue in its most recent quarter.
Companies from Microsoft Corp to Seagate Technology are laying off thousands to try to offset dwindling corporate and consumer spending.
Van Hees reckons Intel is managing well amid the crisis, but thinks it is poised to report its first loss in over two decades in the first quarter.
Independent director Jane Shaw will take Barrett's place as non-executive chairman.