Intel’s board sought fresh blood to help it fend off competition and strengthen its position in the chip market, announcing CEO Bob Swan will be replaced by VMware chief Pat Gelsinger on 15 February.

The company said the leadership shuffle was unrelated to its 2020 financial performance, adding Q4 revenue was expected to exceed its guidance of $17.4 billion. However, Reuters noted the move came after activist investor Third Point last month pressed for changes to improve Intel’s market position.

Intel chairman Omar Ishrak stated “after careful consideration, the board concluded that now is the right time to make this leadership change to draw on Pat’s technology and engineering expertise during this critical period of transformation at Intel”.

He praised Gelsinger (pictured, right) as a “proven technology leader”, expressing confidence he would “ensure strong execution of Intel’s strategy to build on its product leadership and take advantage of the significant opportunities ahead as it continues to transform from a CPU to a multi-architecture XPU company”.

Gelsinger served as VMware CEO since 2012, having previously spent 30 years working at Intel in various roles including CTO, and senior VP and GM of its Digital Enterprise Group.

Swan became CEO in January 2019 after seven months as its interim chief following the resignation of Brian Krzanich.