How much blame should a CEO take, and how much should the company board?
More importantly, Ohr said, Intersil may have had a hard time
understanding what type of analog business it was in, whether it was
the commodity standard parts business (a la Linear Tech and the old
National Semiconductor) or more application-specific/custom parts
(where Maxim is trying to move).
These are sometimes truly difficult paths to reconcile.
"Shockingly few companies are in a position to address both businesses
under the same roof," Ohr said. "Intersil may have spent too many
years thinking it could do that."
But CEOs do not operate in a vacuum. At the end of the day, Bell
becomes the face of investor discontent, but the board needs to
reassess itself. The good news is, it may already have done so.
Donald Macleod, who now serves as chairman, joined the board in
September, the first new member in six years. Macleod spent most of
his career at National Semiconductor, and, by some accounts, was the
secret to then-CEO Brian Halla's success when he served as Halla's
For now, 10-year board member James Diller (retired Elantec
Semiconductor chairman) is Intersil's
interim president and CEO.
We'll see how Macleod and the board steer Intersil
forward--whether it's farther along the application-specific path or
back into commodity parts. It's a company with a good brand and
laudable technology, and there's time, which they bought this
weekend with Wall Street.
Time indeed, but not a lot.
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