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A number of recent big departures of high-ranking executives in the high-tech industry were either caused by some types of scandals or were followed by them closely. However, this is not the case with the resignation of Dirk Meyer, chief executive officer of Advanced Micro Devices. Based on comments from a number of industrial sources, the board of directors at AMD was not exactly happy with the company's performance, decisions and Mr. Meyer's vision of the future.

"This action was not taken over financial, technology or execution issues," said Michael Silverman, a spokesperson for AMD.

Even though it is clear that the chief executive officer of AMD managed to transform the company significantly during the economic crisis and even managed to put the roadmap and product launches back on track, it looks like the board of directors was still not satisfied with his work, past decisions and visions of the future. A source with knowledge of the matter told X-bit labs that while the board generally satisfied with Mr. Meyers long-term vision of AMD's future, they considered that those plans needed to be altered, particularly in the mobile space. Apparently, there were disagreements, which, along with other things, lead to resignation of Dirk Meyer, a legend at Digital and AMD.

The lineup of chips for mobile devices has been AMD's Achille's heel for a long time, yet the team of Mr. Meyer and his predecessor Hector Ruiz only started to develop low-power x86 micro-architecture only in 2006 - 2007 timeframe, which is why AMD missed the emergence of netbook market in 2008 - 2009 (back then Mr. Meyer told that netbooks would die shortly). Due to the lack of low-power system-on-chip (SoC) design produced using a leading edge-process technology, the company cannot compete with its 9W Ontario on the market of tablets. At a recent investor conference the now former head of AMD told the audience that the tablet market was limited to Apple back then only to find out tens of slate PCs at the CES 2011. This situation clearly frustrated the board of directors, especially after numerous delays of Bulldozer, Fusion and other key product designs over the previous years.

Perhaps, AMD is not too substantially behind Intel with its low-power SoC offerings and they could be developed in relatively short timeframe. But it is clear that AMD is completely unable to compete with ARM-based SoCs on the tablet market and, to make the matters worse, on the market of smartphones, set-top-boxes and other devices which sales are going to increase dramatically in the following years. Partly, this happened because Mr. Meyer and Mr. Ruiz sold the ATI Imageon business unit to Qualcomm in early 2008 and ceased to develop AMD's own ARM-based offerings before that.

"While pleased with AMD's progress, the board felt the company has untapped potential in both its existing markets and particularly in new segments, given the rapidly changing market dynamics. The board believes that a change in leadership at this time can accelerate our ability to accomplish its objectives," said Mr. Silverman.

While the claim is politically correct, it is very clear that the board is particularly dissatisfied with Dirk Meyer's ability to foresee emergence of new technologies and new market demands. In addition, since Mr. Meyer is essentially an engineer, he is also not exactly keen on attracting attention to the company and its products, something that also increases market capitalization of any company.

"The key thing is that executives with engineering and/or finance career paths tend to make competent but dull CEOs, while those who get there via sales and marketing turn out to be better corporate representatives. During its Jerry Sanders period, AMD looked bigger than life, and bigger than the company's sales and technology justified. Over the past decade, AMD has grown in terms of its technology prowess, but few (other than geeks) have noticed," said Nathan Brookwood, the principal analyst at Insight 64.

Any new chief executive officer should not only be a better visionary than Mr. Meyer or Mr. Ruiz, but also should be more visible figure in the world of technology or, perhaps, not only technology.

"Based on my knowledge, the board of directors thinks AMD has more potential and needs a bigger CEO to help company realize it," said Jon Peddie, the principal analyst at Jon Peddie Research.

"Now that AMD has resolved many of the issues that plagued it in the past, the board is looking for someone who can help attract the attention of the other 98% of the population that doesn't live and breathe the technology business on a 24x7 basis," added Mr. Brookwood.

Tags: AMD, Business, Phenom, Athlon, , Bulldozer, Fusion

Discussion

Comments currently: 5
Discussion started: 01/11/11 04:43:47 AM
Latest comment: 01/13/11 01:13:28 PM
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1. 
man.....this is the only time AMD made sense in what they can do and not. amd nor intel and nvidia can compete against ARM for use in a tablet or phone. intel even, can't make atoms for tablets. it's just not easily possible with a CISC.

think there's any problem internally, unless, the board of directors just don't know the tech and wants a steve jobs.
0 0 [Posted by: zodiacfml  | Date: 01/11/11 04:43:47 AM]
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amd nor intel and nvidia can compete against ARM for use in a tablet or phone.


I'm pretty certain Nvidia is already competing in both the tablet and the phone market using ARM in it's Tegra 2 platform.
0 0 [Posted by: soonerproud  | Date: 01/11/11 10:28:30 PM]
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2. 
It happened on the eve of 2010 Conference Call.
Has BoD discovered something unpleasant what Meyer had not informed them about?
0 0 [Posted by: Azazel  | Date: 01/12/11 08:58:57 AM]
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3. 
The shareholders of AMD should sue the Board of Directors if AMD fails to execute in the next year and anytime in the next 4 years time frame.

Total complete idiots. They should have proposed him to step back to the CTO position with the SAME salary and benefits and try to find somebody for CEO BEFORE him stepping down.

Many say "he was not enough aggressive" . AMD would have been aggressive in the last 4 years but WITH WHAT ?!!? What piece of tech would have allowed AMD to be "aggressive" !?! None. First get the tech working and THEN be "aggressive".

He just got the tech working. The FIRST TIME IN AMD's history , the company is able to launch 5 different architectures in a 12 mont period : Brazos, Bulldozer, Llano, and whatever the graphics division is working on Barts and Cayman.

And then you fire him ?!?!

The shareholders should sue the BoD if AMD fails anytime in the 2011 ~ 2015 time frame.
0 0 [Posted by: East17  | Date: 01/13/11 06:34:19 AM]
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4. 
Dirk Meyer did his best and things where better then with the older CEO. He launched the 5HD 6HD Series and they where succesfull. He did his best with the phenom6 , and soon Bulldozer is coming out. The board of directors are really stupid, if they can make the company better why dont they become a ceo and do things better. TALK IS CHEAP !.
0 0 [Posted by: 3Dkiller  | Date: 01/13/11 01:13:28 PM]
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