In(tel) Command

Might Gelsinger pull it off....

I finally got around to watching the “Intel Unleashed” presentation from March. While I’m far from an expert on Intel, like a lot of folks in tech, I’m fascinated by the potential for a comeback story here — both because I think it will make for a compelling narrative, but also an important one given where Intel sits (figuratively and historically: at the center of the computing industry, and quite literally: in the US). It has also seemed to be a bit of a shitshow in recent years. While still a massive business obviously, it feels a bit like an anagnorisis situation. That is, Wile E. Coyote has run over the cliff and is about to drop but doesn’t realize it yet…

The good news seems to be that new CEO Pat Gelsinger clearly gets this. And perhaps just as importantly, he clearly cares about this, as someone who worked at Intel for 30 years and has now returned to right the ship. And most important still, he seems to have a plan. And to be in command of the situation.

That’s the key takeaway in watching his comments here. I’m reminded of a post I wrote five years ago, revisiting a Q&A session Steve Jobs did with Apple employees back in 1997, as he had yes, returned to the company to right the ship. This comparison is undoubtedly unfair — Gelsinger, for one thing, wasn’t a founder of Intel; then again, neither was Andy Grove, Gelsinger’s mentor whom he must channel here in this task — but it feels like the apt one to make. My takeaway from the Jobs video was just how in command he was. Of the issues, of the technology, of the company, of the moment.1

Gelsinger’s presentation here is entirely different. For one thing, it’s an actual presentation and not a Q&A. Still, the same thing is conveyed: just how in command he is. And perhaps even more so than Jobs, just how enthusiastic he is about the opportunity here. It’s perhaps more a political stump speech in its vibe — meant as much for Intel employees as anyone else — but it’s nonetheless infectious.

The parallels here also feel even stronger since it’s Apple first and foremost who has been at the forefront of embarrassing Intel on the consumer-facing front. Not only is the company in the process of abandoning the x86 chips, but they’re doing so with their own in-house-designed ARM-based chips. And they smoke you-know-who.

Dopey ads are not the way to respond to such pwning. This is.


Great Stuff

Some good stuff I’ve read of late that’s worth your time. To follow along with these recs in real time, might I suggest Matter (a new service still in closed beta, but you can use this link to sign up)...

💻 Intel’s Hail Mary

Speaking of the Intel shitshow, here’s a deep-dive Ian King and Tom Giles did for Bloomberg into what exactly went wrong, starting with saying ‘no’ to the iPhone, but more so the entire Brian Krzanich era, it would seem…

📺 When Everything Is Paramount

Julia Alexander explains just how complicated the streaming business is getting with ViacomCBS going all-in, but also not with Paramount+…

🌋 The End of Silicon Valley as We Know It?

Tim O’Reilly on the macro trends that are shaping and accelerating the shift away from Silicon Valley as the sole power center in tech…

⚛️ Hunting Ghost Particles Beneath the World’s Deepest Lake

Anton Troianovski explores a science experiment happening in Russia’s Lake Baikal:

The Baikal telescope looks down, through the entire planet, out the other side, toward the center of our galaxy and beyond, essentially using Earth as a giant sieve. For the most part, larger particles hitting the opposite side of the planet eventually collide with atoms. But almost all neutrinos — 100 billion of which pass through your fingertip every second — continue, essentially, on a straight line.

Whoa…

🤐 The Pandemic’s Wrongest Man

Derek Thompson explores the jackassery of Alex Berenson…


Fun Stuff

  • Remember Flappy Bird? How about playing it as an interactive notification widget in macOS? 🐦

  • If you’re like me, you think of Tyrannosaurus Rex as one, giant terrifying dinosaur. But how about the idea that there may have been 2.5 billion of them over their reign? (Not to worry, probably only 20k alive at any given time…) 🦖

  • Baggy jeans may be making a comeback. Which means my closet may be making a comeback. Next, I just need cargo shorts — so useful! — back. 👖

  • You can now have the book cover of a book you’re reading as the cover photo of your Kindle. I cannot believe this was not an option until 2021. 📚

  • Just in as we’re hopefully all ready to fully return to movie theaters, Downton Abbey 2 — 2 Downton 2 Abbey? — will be there to ring the bell. 🍽


My Stuff

Blogs

I’ve been regularly blogging again here. A selection of those below...

Columns

Still writing slightly longer, (hopefully) more fully-formed thoughts here...

👑 Royals, Flush

The meta brilliance and annoyance of the Oprah interview

✈️ At Home, On the Road

The brilliance of Rick Steves’ ‘Monday Night Travel’

🔊 I Was Right That Apple Was Wrong

Rest in peace, HomePod

🔴 OS X, 20 Years Later

My god, it has been that long

🏢 We Have To Go Back

On the return to the office…

🎟 The Apple Show

Some thoughts on Apple’s ‘Spring Loaded’ event…


22 Years…

1

I’m also reminded of an interview Satya Nadella did at the Code Conference back in 2014, shortly after taking over at CEO of Microsoft. It was pretty clear he was also in command and ready to right the ship. And he has.