Intel replaces its chief executive after a rocky stretch

FILE - In this Oct. 1, 2019, file photo the symbol for Intel appears on a screen at the Nasdaq MarketSite, in New York.  Intel is replacing its CEO after two years. The computer company said Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021,  that Pat Gelsinger will become its new CEO, effective Feb. 15. He takes over for Bob Swan, who became CEO in January 2019.  (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
FILE - In this Oct. 1, 2019, file photo the symbol for Intel appears on a screen at the Nasdaq MarketSite, in New York. Intel is replacing its CEO after two years. The computer company said Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, that Pat Gelsinger will become its new CEO, effective Feb. 15. He takes over for Bob Swan, who became CEO in January 2019. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File) (Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Intel is replacing its CEO after only two years in what had been a rough stretch for the chipmaker.

Bob Swan, who became the company's chief executive in early 2019, will be replaced in mid-February by tech industry veteran Pat Gelsinger.

The choice of Gelsinger, who started his career as an Intel engineer decades ago, puts the semiconductor pioneer back in the hands of a tech expert at a time when it is struggling to keep up with market changes and growing competition.

“The CEO has to understand what’s going on with this market and how to respond to it," said Glenn O’Donnell, an analyst at Forrester Research. “Pat’s built a lot of that business over the years."

Intel's stock jumped 7% Wednesday on news of the change at the top.

The Santa Clara, California, company said that the change in leadership is unrelated to its financial performance last year, but the surprise shakeup followed several weeks of investor activism by hedge fund Third Point, which had pushed for big changes.

Intel acknowledged in late December that it had received a letter from the New York fund and was working with it on ideas “regarding enhanced shareholder value.” Third Point CEO Daniel Loeb tweeted on Wednesday that “Swan is a class act and did the right thing for all stake holders stepping aside for Gelsinger.”

Intel spokesman William Moss said Wednesday the changeover “was not driven by Third Point.”