Intel spent $25 million to poach Venkata “Murthy” Renduchintala from Qualcomm last year, putting him in charge of the company’s PC and IoT businesses and making him the company’s second most powerful executive behind CEO Brian Krzanich.
Renduchintala didn’t waste anytime to make his presence felt at Intel. In a leaked memo picked up by The Oregonian’s Mike Rogoway in April, Renduchintala slammed the company’s slow management and lack of focus.
“Over the last three months I have conducted numerous project reviews with our execution teams, and there is a clear trend that has emerged in these reviews — a lack of product/customer focus in execution that is creating schedule and competitiveness gaps in our products,” the note said.
But when asked about the memo in an interview at Citi Conference this week, Renduchintala defended his language, calling it an “honest communication” between himself and his direct reports.
“I don’t think the contents of the memo was anything other than a reflection of my thoughts after three months being there, and I think they were more in terms of areas where we could refine and adjust our approach as opposed to maybe the interpretation in the press of something being really broken…It was really written as essentially a very honest communication between myself and my direct staff.”
“They weren’t proclamations”
Renduchintala added it’s simply the way he intends to run his team so they can engage in constructive discussions and move quickly. He believes it’s the best way to get aligned as a team without any confusions.
“They weren’t proclamations, they were observations and perceptions, made clear in a memo, to be challenged, to be discussed, and to be the base upon which we develop a mutual understanding of how we work as a team…But at the end of the day, engage in a dialogue where we all come out aligned as a team. And it was in that spirit that I wrote the memo.”
Renduchintala has a reputation of being a straight shooter type of manager, according to multiple people we spoke with. One person described him as being “loud” and “not afraid to say” his opinion, while another called his leadership style “command and control” where he often “dressed down” underperforming executives at Qualcomm.
Even at Intel, the current management team’s reception has been “mixed,” especially because of his unusually large compensation package which “came off the wrong way” internally, according to another current Intel employee we spoke with.
In any case, Renduchintala has a lot of control at Intel. CEO Krzanich showed his support in April when he said Renduchintala would largely be in charge of making the final call for the company’s biggest layoff in history. And all the changes are causing anger and turmoil among old timers. In fact, two long time executives, Kirk Skaugen and Doug Davis, announced their departures soon after Renduchintala was hired.