AMD CEO Resigns
AMD announced that its Board of Directors has appointed Senior Vice President and CFO Thomas Seifert, 47, as interim CEO following the resignation of Dirk Meyer, 49, as president, CEO, and a director of the company effective immediately in a mutual agreement with the board of directors.
A CEO Search Committee has been formed to begin the search for a new CEO. The Committee is led by Bruce Claflin, Chairman of AMD's Board of Directors, who has been named Executive Chairman of the Board as he assumes additional oversight responsibilities during the transition period. Seifert will maintain his current responsibilities as CFO and has asked not to be considered for the permanent CEO position.
"Dirk became CEO during difficult times. He successfully stabilized AMD while simultaneously concluding strategic initiatives including the launch of GLOBALFOUNDRIES, the successful settlement of our litigation with Intel and delivering Fusion APUs to the market," said Claflin.
"However, the Board believes we have the opportunity to create increased shareholder value over time. This will require the company to have significant growth, establish market leadership and generate superior financial returns. We believe a change in leadership at this time will accelerate the company's ability to accomplish these objectives."
Seifert joined AMD in 2009, and has more than 20 years of general management, global operations and financial management expertise. Immediately prior to joining AMD, Seifert served as COO and CFO of Qimonda AG, where he led the formation and subsequent IPO of the company. At Infineon AG, Seifert served as senior vice president and general manager in its Wireless Business Group.
In commenting on Seifert, Claflin said, "During his tenure at AMD, Thomas helped strengthen the company's balance sheet while demonstrating strong leadership and winning the respect of his peers. His operations and finance experience make him an excellent choice to guide the company as interim CEO."
"AMD enters 2011 with considerable product and financial momentum. Our roadmap for the year, including our 'Llano' APU and 32nm 'Bulldozer' based processors remain on track," said Seifert. "I believe we have significant opportunities to cement our leadership positions in several key market segments based on the strength of our upcoming products."
Commentary By Jeffrey Rowe, Editor
Well, 2011 has started off with a bang (at least in the executive ranks) at a couple of companies integral to the MCAD industry. Both announcements caught a lot of people off guard and wondering a bit about the future of the companies and possible implications for the MCAD industry.
On January 6, DS SolidWorks announced that CEO, Jeff Ray, was moving on to a newly created position within Dassault Systemes - Executive Vice President, Geographic Operations. He was replaced with a new CEO, Bertrand Sicot, who has been with Dassault since 1997. Much has been made of these moves, and I'm holding off judgment until I talk with some DS SolidWorks folks next week at SolidWorks World. (See “The Week's Top 5” below).
On January 10, AMD announced that Dirk Meyer had resigned as president, CEO, and a director of the company effective immediately. The seemingly sudden departure of AMD CEO Dirk Meyer was supposedly the result of concerns among some board members that he wasn't doing enough to get the company into the mobile market. The departure, however, came as a complete surprise to some AMD employees that I know and talked with immediately following the announcement.
AMD (Advanced Micro Devices), founded in 1969, is the second-largest global supplier of microprocessors (CPUs) based on the x86 architecture and also one of the largest supplier of graphics processing units (GPUs), especially with the acquisition of ATI Technologies in 2006. Last year AMD announced that it would retire the "ATI" name and instead brand its graphics chipsets as "AMD" beginning in late 2010. The company began as a producer of logic chips, then entered the RAM chip business in 1975. That same year, it introduced a reverse-engineered clone of the Intel 8080 microprocessor.
As late as October 2010, Meyer was quoted as saying that even though tablets were cutting demand for laptops, AMD would hold off on investing to develop microprocessors for that market until it grew more to a level that made sense to him. Before making this statement, AMD board members watched in dismay as AMD's chief rival, Intel, was making mobile chips in a big way and dominated that market. However, Meyer was far from being the only CEO who failed to see the advent of a booming mobile market coming. He shares company with this lack of mobile foresight with Microsoft's Steve Ballmer.
AMD's Meyer was a well-liked and personable engineer who rose through the ranks to eventually lead the company that is perennially in Intel's shadow. Meyer started his career at AMD leading the team that developed the company's popular Athlon processor. Prior to that he had a career at Digital Equipment Corp. where he was co-architect of the Alpha chip.
Generally speaking, based on their backgrounds and personalities, chip designers who become executives rarely possess the qualities required to be an effective CEO, and this may have contributed to Meyer's downfall and demise.
“He was not Mr. Personality,” said Jon Peddie, president of Jon Peddie Research. “He is a hell of a good guy but he is not like, some of the more robust guys who put themselves out in front of the crowd. He lacks that star power.”
AMD's only CEO with true star power was its co-founder Jerry Sanders, who was the company's “super” salesman, but who was also famous for his lifestyle and expensive tastes. However, at 74, he is unlikely to want to return to an industry that barely resembles what he left in 2002.
AMD says has begun the monumental task of searching for a new CEO who can meet the following requirements: inspirational, charismatic, vision, and an understanding of technology and its implications for both product development and marketing. Face it, though, the semiconductor industry is an engineering-driven business, and finding leaders who meet all of these criteria is a tall order to say the least.
So who are AMD's executive recruiters likely to approach first? Industry analysts and pundits have been debating several executives from the semiconductor, and business systems, PC, telecommunications industries, or an outsider from none of the above. I'm personally betting the next CEO could come from a company the likes of HP, IBM, Qualcomm, or even Motorola - the last two companies knowing a few things about mobile technologies, where AMD seems to be lacking, at least according to AMD's board members.
Above and beyond the mobile market, which is supposedly what caused Meyer's demise and forced him to resign, AMD's world is much bigger than just mobile technologies. For MCAD, it is still a major player with its CPUs (such as Phenom and Athlon processors) and its GPUs (FirePro Professional Graphics cards). How will these areas be affected going forward? Will the mobile market take precedence at the expense of other markets, including MCAD? I would like to hope not, but these are tough times for most of the players in the semiconductor industry trying to predict where to go next. I wish AMD the best in finding and securing a new person at the top with great leadership, vision, broad knowledge of current and future technology needs and direction.
The Week's Top 5
At MCADCafé we track many things, including the stories that have attracted the most interest from our subscribers. Below are the five news items that were the most viewed during last week.
Dassault Systèmes Reinforces its Field Operations Jeff Ray Promoted to Executive Vice President, Geographic Operations
Dassault Systèmes announced the appointment of Jeff Ray as Executive Vice President, Geographic Operations, and member of the Dassault Systèmes executive committee. In this newly created position, Ray will oversee the company's geographies in order to empower the Dassault Systèmes local teams to serve customers' and partners' growing needs and fully exploit the market growth potential. Ray joined Dassault Systèmes in 2003 as chief operating officer for SolidWorks, and was appointed CEO of SolidWorks in 2007. Prior to his seven-year tenure at Dassault Systèmes, Ray held various senior executive positions in software and IT companies. In tandem, Bertrand Sicot has been named SolidWorks CEO. Sicot first joined Dassault Systèmes in 1997 where he was in charge of regional sales for SolidWorks in Europe. He then expanded the US SolidWorks operations from 2004 to 2007, and since 2007 has been leading the SolidWorks global sales channel.