2011: The Year of Shifts
The year 2011 is about to end. We yet do not know which of the decisions made this year will actually disrupt the consumer or computing industries. We picked up three decisions that clearly have long consequences and can have influences well-beyond companies that actually make them. Coincidentally, all of those decisions were made early during the year.
2011: AMD Fires Dirk Meyer
In early January, 2011, the board of directors of Advanced Micro Devices decided to oust Dirk Meyer from the company due to disagreements with his strategy of further development of the company. Perhaps, his plan was not right, but it is unclear whether the new chief exec can actually form a winning strategy and tactics and then execute his roadmap flawlessly.
Dirk Meyer is a person whose role at AMD is hard to overestimate. He personally led the development of the legendary Athlon processor that completely changed AMD as a company. He also participated in the design of AMD's x86-64 architecture as well as K8 processor known as Opteron and Athlon 64, the chips that drove AMD into high-end desktops and the datacenter. Besides, starting from 2008 he managed to get AMD back on track during the worst economic downturn in the recent decade.
Based on what we do know about the reasons why AMD's directors decided to oust Mr. Meyer was his concentration on high-end servers and datacenters while not addressing the market of ultra low-power devices properly. Mr. Meyer justified the focus by stating that an increasing mobile and consumer electronics markets do not shrink the traditional markets. The former chief executive of AMD wanted to address the ultra low-power markets later, when AMD is prepared to dedicate sufficient resources to address them well. But the board of directors decided that it needed a clear roadmap for ultra-portables.
AMD hired ex-Lenovo executive Rory Read to address popular markets with AMD's chips. Mr. Read is not an engineer and cannot solve complex hardware related problems with hands-on control. It remains to be seen whether he will be as successful at AMD as he was at IBM and Lenovo.