Back to the ’90s with Microsoft and Intel

Hello, and welcome to this week’s edition of the Insider Tech newsletter, where we break down the biggest news in tech, including:

I’m your host Alexei Oreskovic. Hit me up with your thoughts, tips, rants and raves at aoreskovic@businessinsider.com.

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Soundtrack: This week’s newsletter has been specially designed to be consumed while listening to Blur’s “Bettlebum.”


This week: Back to the ’90s with Microsoft and Intel

Satya Nadella

It’s been a long time since Intel and Microsoft – the much-feared “Wintel” duopoly of old – dominated business headlines and captivated the world’s attention in the same 24-hour period.

And yet this week felt like a return to the ’90s as the two tech giants’ latest moves had the industry buzzing. Let’s start with Intel, the fallen chip champion, which unveiled a big comeback plan on Tuesday.

  • After losing its chip manufacturing edge, Intel has been stuck in a business-model identity crisis. Should it split its manufacturing and design operations? Should it produce chips for other companies? Should it outsource its own production? Intel CEO Pat Gelisinger, just one month in the top job, gave his answer on Tuesday: Yes to all of the above!
  • Intel will double down on chip manufacturing, pouring $20 billion to build two new fabs in Arizona. The fabs will produce the most advanced chips for Intel, and for outside customers – a shrewd move that allows Intel to benefit from US and European anxieties about dependence on China, and to (eventually) tap into all the new chip buyers that have created today’s shortages.
  • But Intel will also use outside contract manufacturers, like TSMC, to produce some of its own chips. There’s something for everyone, though it still may not be enough to bring back Intel’s glory days, as Rosalie Chan reports.

Microsoft meanwhile has already gone through its reinvention. Under Satya Nadella’s now seven-year reign as CEO, the company has thrived by focusing on business customers and cloud computing.


File under curious…

my pillow ceo mike lindell documentary
MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell.

Goodbye Vocl, Hello Frank. MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell’s social network hasn’t launched yet, but it’s already gone through a name change. Frank, as the service will be called, has nothing to do with frankfurters or Frank Sinatra. The name signifies the site’s antipathy to political correctness and its devotion to “forthright and sincere” expression.

WeWork’s SPAC Shaq attack. The office space sharing business has only gotten uglier in the 18 months since WeWork scrapped its IPO, with the pandemic turning downtown business centers into ghosttowns. But WeWork will get its public listing after all, thanks to the SPAC boom. The company will merge with BowX Acquisition Corp, a blank-check company that counts basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal as an advisor, in a deal that values WeWork at $9 billion – about one quarter of its $47 billion valuation in 2019.

Better than Zoom. Coronavirus vaccines have put the end of lockdowns in sight. But for those who’ve decided they actually enjoy staying indoors, the cloisered life won’t have to mean taking a vow of celibacy according to London-based Raspberry Dream Labs. The company is developing a virtual reality set up that delivers sounds, visuals and scents, as well as haptic pulses that provide a sense of being touched. Pandemic or not, the company believes the future of intimacy is remote.


Quote of the week:

“I don’t think we can expect that any platform will find every instance of harmful content. I think we should hold the platforms to be responsible for building generally effective systems of moderating this content.”

facebook zuckerberg misinformation hearing

– Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg at Thursday’s Congressional hearing responding to a question about whether he should personally be held liable for damages caused by misinformation on Facebook.


Recommended Readings:

We identified the 194 most powerful people at Google under CEO Sundar Pichai. Check out our exclusive org chart.

Insiders say incoming Amazon CEO Andy Jassy picked a close ally when he hired Adam Selipsky to run its $51 billion cloud business – and it could make all the difference

Europe’s unicorn founders and investors want to make it easier to spread wealth and compete with Silicon Valley

LASHINSKY: After almost 6 years and billions of dollars, Google med-tech spinoff Verily is still a scattershot jumble of moonshots

Coinbase has become a ‘breeding ground’ for startup founders, with the company’s help and sometimes money, former employees say

A researcher turned down a $60k grant from Google because it ousted 2 top AI ethics leaders: ‘I don’t think this is going to blow over’


Not necessarily in tech:

Apollo’s hard-driving culture is extreme even by Wall Street standards, and it’s burning through young workers. Here’s why $450,000-plus pay and rules to ban weekend emails aren’t enough to keep them happy.


Sponsor content:

This startup CEO used his experience as a product designer for one of Japan’s top automakers to build a solution that is reshaping personal mobility

This woman CEO started a company that uses AI to eliminate mundane tasks and eventually achieve a 4-hour workday


Thanks for reading, and if you like this newsletter, tell your friends and colleagues they can sign up here to receive it.

– Alexei

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Taiwan Semiconductor slips as Intel announces plans to spend $20 billion on new chip factories

FILE PHOTO - A logo of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) is seen at its headquarters in Hsinchu, Taiwan August 31, 2018. Picture taken August 31, 2018. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
A logo of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) is seen at its headquarters in Hsinchu.

Taiwan Semiconductor’s stock slipped on Wednesday after Intel announced plans to spend $20 billion on two new chip factories in Arizona.

Intel’s new CEO Pat Gelsinger laid down plans to directly compete with Taiwan Semiconductor and its South Korean rival Samsung in the foundry business creating chips for companies around the world.

“Intel is back. The old Intel is the new Intel,” Gelsinger said in a March 23 virtual presentation. “We’re going to be leaders in the market and we’re going to satisfy the new foundry customers, because the world needs more semiconductors and we’re going to step into that gap in a powerful and meaningful way.”

Intel is taking advantage of incentives from both federal and local governments to help roll out its new factories after President Biden signed an executive order to bolster US supply chains amid a worldwide semiconductor shortage in late February.

Intel’s Arizona factories will create over 3,000 permanent high-tech jobs, 3,000 construction jobs, and roughly 15,000 local long-term jobs for the region.

Taiwan Semiconductor shares continued their more than month-long fall on Wednesday after the Intel news broke. The stock is down roughly 20% from February 16 record highs.

In a note to institutional investors on Wednesday, Wedbush’s Brad Gastwirth said he believes TSMC’s fall on the Intel news is overdone.

The Chief Technology Strategist said he sees Intel’s new foundry business as an expensive move that could have an “elongated” production timeline, not producing any revenues for Intel until 2022 or 2023.

Taiwanese Economy Minster Wang Mei-hua added a similar opinion when leaving parliament on Wednesday, saying Intel’s $20 billion investment wouldn’t be a challenge to Taiwan Semiconductor and other Taiwanese chip makers, Reuters reported.

Taiwan Semiconductor has enough of its own problems without Intel’s move into the foundry business.

A water shortage has threatened production at TSMC for over a month now, and Bloomberg reported on Wednesday that the water supply to chip makers has been cut entirely as a drought continues to lower water reserves in the island nation.

Taiwan Semiconductor traded down 4.13% as of 9:58 a.m. ET on Wednesday.

TSM chart 2
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