The battle for the Israeli chip market took an interesting turn back in March, when Uri Frank, a high ranked executive at Intel Global, surprisingly stepped down from his position. This happened just two weeks after taking on a Corporate VP role. The Frank news wasn’t over there, as the Israeli tech veteran switched out Intel for Google, to lead its new chip development center in Israel.
Intel, however, proves that it can play the executive poaching game too. The chip giant brought Shlomit Weiss back to its ranks, following a four year stint at NVIDIA. Weiss will serve as Co-General Manager Design Engineering group alongside Sunil Shenoy, who worked with Weiss in the past.
28 years at Intel, 4 years at Mellanox turned NVIDIA
Shlomit Weiss graduated from the Technion in 1989 and immediately started working at Intel’s chip development division as a junior manager. For 28 years, Weiss climbed the ranks at Intel, until she became the first woman in company history to manage a cluster, among many other accolades. As part of her position, Weiss oversaw development of Sandy Bridge and Skylake processors -- which have been installed in hundreds of millions of devices around the world.
“After 28 years I was looking for a change, and I found it at Mellanox,” explains Weiss in an interview with Geektime. “There, I entered the world of hardware engineering and managed a team focused on developing silicon components for communications.” In 2019 Mellanox was acquired by NVIDIA for $6.9 billion, and it seems as if the transition didn’t go over smoothly with Weiss: It took a long time until we became NVIDIA, but after fully transitioning, I felt it was time for a change.”
Did you feel as if you peaked, or was the NVIDIA integration what sparked you to leave?
Weiss: “It’s a combination of both. My infrastructure following the NVIDIA integration was less exciting. I knew I wouldn’t enjoy the role after, and it’s crucial for me to have that excitement.”
Now, returning home to Intel, Weiss will take the role of Senior VP, co-GM Design Engineering group. Alongside another former Intel talent who returns from exile -- Sunil Shenoy. “I’ve known Sunil from previous roles, we worked closely together. He contacted me after taking on the new role, and asked if I was interested,” says Weiss. “Two days later, Pat Gelsinger offered me the job, explaining its importance and meaning… It sounded more and more exciting. I quickly decided that this was my opportunity to do something exciting.”
The defector that’s bringing back the others
Weiss is not the first Intel employee to shed some light on the new spirit which Gelsinger has brought into the company. Positive news considering the company has been shaken to the core these past few years, including 2 CEO resigning, delays in product launch, inferior technology compared to competitors, and loss of glamorous customers like Apple and others. Ran Berenson, who replaced Uri Frank after he jumped ship over to Google, told Geektime in an exclusive interview that Gelsinger wants Intel to dominate its competitors across various sectors. Gelsinger, a 30 year veteran at Intel, had also returned to the company after defecting over to EMC and taking on the CEO position at VMWare.
When I ask Weiss about possibly returning to the same enterprise where she felt that she had peaked, she claims that today -- it’s a totally different organization. “The challenges, the opportunities, the ecosystem, everything is different.”
We can only assume that the wave of defections in Israeli tech won’t stop with Frank and Weiss, with the latter noting that the Israeli market is “so hot right now”, which is leading to new and enticing opportunities. “In the U.S, moving between major corporations is not such a big deal, while in Israel it’s the exact opposite.” She claims that there is currently an “insane” window of opportunities in the market, and not just for executives.
These juniors and execs alike are the treasure for which Intel, Facebook, and Google are fighting for. With all three, in addition to other market players, expanding (like Intel’s mega-campus) or establishing R&D centers and chip development in Israel. It’s highly likely that we’ll hear more frequently about key personnel jumping from ship to another.