Gelsinger is an industry legend who was critical in creating and building VMware into the virtualization and software powerhouse it is today, having led VMware for the past eight and a half years.
“It has been the honor of my lifetime to serve as the CEO of VMware,” said Gelsinger in a statement Wednesday. “We have transformed the global technology landscape for the better, and I am confident that the company will continue to excel as they enable customers with the digital foundation for an unpredictable world.”
CRN breaks down the seven most important things to know about Gelsinger—from his long history at Intel to being voted No. 1 CEO in America by Glassdoor.
Intel runs in his veins; he was the company’s first CTO
Gelsinger was just 18 years old when he joined Intel in 1979, fresh out of the Lincoln Technical Institute, he said in a post Wednesday. He spent the next 30 years at Intel in various executive roles, including senior vice president and general manager of Intel’s Digital Enterprise Group, and was named the company’s first chief technology officer in 2000.
“I am thrilled and humbled to be returning to Intel as CEO,” said Gelsinger Wednesday.
During his three decades at Intel, he drove the creation of technologies including USB and Wi-Fi. Through his leadership, he led Intel to become the dominant supplier of the microprocessor as he played a significant role as the architect of the original 80486 processor, according to his VMware bio.
“I have tremendous regard for the company’s rich history and the powerful technologies created here that have transformed, and continue to transform, the world’s digital infrastructure,” said Gelsinger Wednesday. “We have incredible talent and remarkable technical expertise that is the envy of the industry.”
Intel legend and former CEO Andrew Grove was Gelsinger’s mentor
Andrew Grove was an Intel engineering legend, taking the reins as president in 1979 followed by the CEO position in 1987. Grove led Intel for 11 years until relinquishing his CEO role in 1998 after being diagnosed with prostate cancer, remaining Intel’s chairman of the board until 2004.
“Andy was a personal mentor and friend for 35 years,” said Gelsinger on stage during The Channel Company’s 2018 Best of Breed conference. “Mentoring with Andy Grove was like going to the dentist and not getting Novocaine. He was tough; he was hard.”
Gelsinger reflected on one memory he had of being mentored by Grove.
“I gave what was probably one of the three most important strategy presentations ever done at Intel, and I had just finished with one of them—it was the multi-core strategy when we moved from a single- core, single-threaded machine, I drove that strategy for the company—and I got done and it was the culmination of six months of work. And it‘s like going to your dad and looking for approval, give me your blessing,” said Gelsinger. “And [Grove] said to me, ‘You didn’t give me a marketing plan yet.’ I finished a seminal restructuring of the entire company and that’s all he said. I worked for him for 30 years and he complimented me only four times. I have them written down and notarized. But he made you better.”
Grove passed away in 2016. “When he passed away, it was a very sad day, sad week for me,” Gelsinger said during the 2018 conference.
Gelsinger rumored to head Intel multiple times
With such a vast history at Intel, there were several times throughout the 2010s when it was rumored that Gelsinger would become the next CEO of Intel.
Prior to joining EMC in 2009, Gelsinger led Intel’s Digital Enterprise Group that accounted for more than half of Intel’s annual revenue and was responsible for the company’s enterprise products including PCs, servers, communications and storage.
In 2013, it was widely expected that Gelsinger would succeed former Intel CEO Paul Otellini. That didn’t occur.
Then in 2018, it was rumored that Gelsinger could replace Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, who had abruptly resigned from the company. Gelsinger needed to go on Twitter to dispel the rumor that he was leaving VMware after several media outlets said Intel should pursue him.
“Thanks for the shout out, but I love being CEO and not going anywhere else. The future is software!!!” said Gelsinger in 2018.
Voted best CEO in America
In 2019, Gelsinger was voted the best CEO in America among all U.S. large companies by Glassdoor after receiving an astounding 99 percent approval rating from users.
“Our culture is one of possibilities, where everyone is empowered, because together we are shaping the future of business in the digital world,” said Gelsinger in an interview with Glassdoor about being voted the No. 1 CEO in America. “If you think about it, we spend more of our discretionary time with our work families than we do our personal ones; it is important to me that our team enjoys that time we have together.”
Gelsinger said at the time that a good leader must understand how to constantly learn, grow, evolve and keep a hard work ethic. “I wouldn’t have gotten to where I am today without hard work and perseverance to continuously learn and grow,” Gelsinger said.
Glassdoor is an employment website where employees anonymously review companies and their management. Glassdoor’s rating are based on the consistency, quantity and quality of the reviews.
Gelsinger is known for his charity work
There not too many millionaire technology CEOs who hike mountains for charity, but Gelsinger isn’t like many CEOs. Outside work, Gelsinger is known for his deep religious faith and charitable work, typically tackling tough physical activities to raise money for those in need.
For example, in 2018 the technology guru climbed Africa’s highest mountain to raise money to construct a high school for girls in Kenya. Through the charitable organization Missions of Hope International, which supports orphans and vulnerable children and families in Kenya, Gelsinger raised more than US$100,000 by climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, with an elevation of approximately 19,341 feet.
“Girls in particular are susceptible to be prevented from education, falling back to tribal patterns of being married off and child bearing at very young ages and continuing the terrible cycle of poverty,” said Gelsinger at the time. “I‘m thrilled with the potential to click off a bucket list item but doing it for the noblest of causes—bringing hope and life to the world’s most vulnerable. Truly changing the face of eternity for these kids.”
Gelsinger nearly tripled VMware’s revenue, doubled its size
Gelsinger took the reins of VMware in September 2012 after a three-year stint at EMC as president and chief operating officer.
Gelsinger has been critical to VMware’s massive success over the past eight and a half years, more than doubling the company’s size during his tenure. He created the world market leader in virtualization, increasing VMware’s annual revenue from US$4.5 billion to now nearly US$12 billion.
Gelsinger led VMware through several transformations as well as dozens of mergers and acquisitions to create an IT software force to be reckoned with.
“Pat led the company in expanding our core virtualization footprint and broadening our capabilities to cloud, networking, 5G/edge and security, while almost tripling revenue to nearly US$12 billion,” said Zane Rowe, VMware CFO and new interim CEO, in a statement Wednesday.
“As CEO for the past eight years, Pat led the company’s tremendous growth and expansion and built a solid foundation for future innovation,” said Dell Technologies CEO Michael Dell in a statement.
In a message to VMware, Gelsinger thanked the company for his rewarding career. “My sincere and heartfelt thanks to Team VMware, our customers, and our partners for some of the most rewarding years of my career,” he said.
Intel CEO post the ‘greatest honor of my career’
Gelsinger said he couldn’t be more excited to take on the new leadership role at Intel.
“My experience at Intel has shaped my entire career, and I am forever grateful to this company. To come back ‘home’ to Intel in the role of CEO during what is such a critical time for innovation, as we see the digitization of everything accelerating, will be the greatest honor of my career,” said Gelsinger.
Gelsinger, who officially becomes Intel CEO on Feb. 15, said he still has tremendous regard for the company’s rich history and powerful technologies that are transforming the world’s digital infrastructure.
“I look forward to working with all of you to continue to shape the future of technology,” said VMware’s Gelsinger Wednesday. “While Intel’s history is rich, the transformation from a CPU to multi-architecture XPU company is exciting and our opportunity as a world-leading semiconductor manufacturer is greater than it’s ever been. I will be sharing more in the near term about my vision and strategy for Intel, but I know we can continue to accelerate innovation, strengthen our core business and create value for our shareholders, customers and employees. … I can’t wait to resume this journey with all of you.”