Top 5 Takeaways With Bob Swan

November 21, 2023

We hosted Bob Swan for a fireside chat at our headquarters in Mountain View, California. Bob Swan is an Operating Partner at Andreessen Horowitz and the former CEO of Intel.

Here are five takeaways from the discussion. The text has been lightly edited for brevity and clarity.

1. The business world is like full contact sports. Give everything you have along the way.

“The business world is like full contact sports. There’s a realm of being a fan — that’s sitting in the stands, opining about how well the teams on the field are playing the games. Then there’s the sidelines — close to the action, hopefully helping out, but not taking the body blows. And there is being on the field. I was in your shoes for 35 years, playing the full contact sport and I absolutely loved it. I loved the dynamics. I loved the teamwork. I loved the camaraderie. I liked solving big problems. When I left the field, I left knowing that I gave everything I had along the way.”

2. Automotive is an important frontier for edge computing.

“Our strategy at Intel was to expand beyond the CPUs to XPUs; expand beyond hardware to software; expand beyond the pc to the server and edge. All of these things were to expand our market so that there would be more prospects for growth. In edge computing, there are these things called automobiles. It’s a pretty big market. If you have leading edge technologies and a strong view about where the IoT industry is going, that's a pretty attractive space. Mobileye checked all of these boxes strategically and got us into a segment of the industry that’s relatively large, where we didn’t have much of a role.”

3. Success comes from understanding your customers, your capabilities, and your impediments.

“You really need to understand your customers to achieve your dreams. No matter what situation you’re in, you need to understand your own capabilities. What do you need to add to the team to increase the likelihood that you get to the North Star. And you need to understand the impediments. For me, competitors are an impediment. They’re going to get in your way. They’re going to try to do the stuff you’re trying to do. Therefore, try not to be obsessed with your competitors, but know enough about what they’re saying to your customers and who they are recruiting and what their ambitions are.”

4. Generative AI will be transformative and will have a demonstrable impact across industries.

“I believe, as a non-hype person, that generative AI is going to be one of those technology inflections that is going to impact everything that we do, every industry and customer that we serve, and how we do things on our own. It will take a while, but I think it’s going to have profound impacts on all the industries, they’re all going to be affected by it. The question is: At what rate? But everybody believes it’ll have a demonstrable impact on their business.”

5. Work and home life are complementary.

“I believe in the one life to live concept. And in order to be great at work, you have to have things pretty stable at home. And to be great at home, for me, I had to have a lot of fun at work. So work and home life are not separable. They’re almost one and the same, because I knew if I didn’t do well at one, I would not be doing well at the other.”

To learn more about Bob Swan’s perspective on the automotive and semiconductor industries, watch his fireside chat at Intersect 23.