Intel CEO out after consensual relationship with employee

Corporate America is under intense pressure to enforce workplace policies on gender equality and sexual harassment.
 / Updated  / Source: Associated Press
Image: Brian Krzanich
Brian Krzanich, Intel CEO, speaks at the Intel Keynote address at CES in Las Vegas, Nevada on January 8, 2018.Rick Wilking / Reuters file

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Intel CEO Brian Krzanich resigned after the company learned of what it called his consensual relationship with an employee.

Intel said Thursday that the relationship was in violation of the company's non-fraternization policy, which applies to all managers. The company did not give more details on what happened and a representative did not immediately return a message for comment on Thursday.

Chief Financial Officer Robert Swan will take over as interim CEO immediately. A search for a new CEO is underway.

In this #MeToo era, corporate America is under intense pressure to enforce workplace policies on gender equality and sexual harassment. Even relationships that appear consensual are closely scrutinized — and often prohibited by companies — if they involve a power imbalance such as the one between a manager and an employee.

Earlier this month, Guess Inc. co-founder Paul Marciano stepped down following a company investigation into allegations of sexual harassment and assault.

John Lasseter, co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney's animation chief, also recently said he was resigning over what he called "missteps" with employees.

Years before #MeToo, the CEO of Hewlett-Packard Co., Mark Hurd, was ousted following accusations of sexual harassment by a female contract worker. Hurd settled with the woman in 2010.

The male-dominated tech industry has also been a hotbed for allegations of harassment and discrimination, and in some ways foreshadowed #MeToo as female employees began speaking out. In February 2017, former Uber engineer Susan Fowler wrote an explosive, detailed blog post about the culture of systemic harassment and abuse that she experienced at the ride-hailing company. It wasn't until the fall that #MeToo began taking off.

Krzanich joined Intel Corp. in 1982 as an engineer and rose through the ranks until he became CEO in 2013. During his tenure, Intel worked to push into growing businesses such as internet-based computing, high-speed memory chips and smart, connected objects that make up what's known as the "Internet of Things," or IoT — along with fields such as artificial intelligence and self-driving cars.

He had also been a champion of workplace diversity. In 2015 at the CES gadget show in Las Vegas, Krzanich challenged the tech industry to increase the hiring of women and minorities, and he set a goal of full representation in his company's workforce by 2020. Intel said it was investing $300 million to improve diversity at the company

His abrupt departure overshadowed otherwise positive news for the giant chip maker.

Intel said Thursday that it expects to post a per-share profit of 99 cents in the second quarter, 13 cents better than Wall Street was expecting, and revenue of $16.9 billion, which is also better than had been projected by industry analysts.

Shares of Intel Corp., based in Santa Clara, California, slid 2 percent in morning trading.

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