Even as Intel struggles to gain a foothold in the mobile market, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich has invested significant time and energy in the community of hobbyists.
“There may be a ‘next big thing’ that comes out of that community,” Krzanich said in an interview after his appearance at last week’s Code Conference. “Those are the people who are inventing. Those are the creators. Those are the guys that are going to take something they see or do there and take it to Kickstarter.”
Intel has been a key backer of Maker Faire, and the company used a Rome event last year to launch its Galileo project for hobbyists. Other tech companies, including chipmaker Atmel and software makers Autodesk and Oracle, also had a significant presence at last month’s Bay Area Maker Faire.
Even if those at Maker Faire don’t produce a breakout hit, Krzanich said these sorts of events are packed with the young people who will one day fill the Silicon Valley work force.
“Those are the future engineers,” he said. “You want to have a presence there. You want them to know Intel and our architecture, so that whatever company they go to, they at least know who we are.”
Krzanich noted that the company’s research shows that a declining number of college classes and Kickstarter projects are using Intel’s chips rather than the kinds of ARM processors most often used in cellphones and tablets.
Finally, there is another reason that Krzanich is backing Maker Faire.
“I like it,” he said. “It’s fun. We are an engineering company and so we should be involved in engineering.”
Krzanich is quite a hobbyist himself, helping his kids with a number of projects over the past year, including a dry-ice-powered tennis ball cannon and an alarm clock.