Advanced Micro Devices on Wednesday named Lisa Su its new chief executive officer and president. Dr. Su will replace Rory Read, who became CEO in 2011 and whose mine job was to reduce AMD’s expenditures and return the company to profitability. The move means that AMD’s board of directors has decided that a renowned chip technology expert will be a better head for AMD that Rory Read, a great business executive.
“Leadership succession planning has been a joint effort between Rory and the board and we felt that Lisa’s expertise and proven leadership in the global semiconductor industry make this an ideal time for her to lead the company,” said Bruce Claflin, chairman of AMD’s board of directors.
When Rory Read was appointed on the CEO position at AMD back in August, 2011, it was made very clear that his main task would be to restructure AMD, return the company to profitability, make AMD disciplined from financial point of view and to make a lot of various tough decisions. During the last three years, AMD has made significant progress in financial and operational performance. The company returned to non-GAAP profitability (albeit, thanks to the fact that it could sign deals with partners like GlobalFoundries and avoid certain payments) and materially diversified its business. Since 2012, AMD has reduced operating expenditures by approximately 30% and maintained cash at near an optimal level of $1 billion.
“I would also like to thank Rory for his many accomplishments and contributions positioning AMD for long-term success by helping to create a strong foundation and clear path to re-establish the company’s growth and profitability,” said Mr. Claflin.
Lisa Su is a significant departure from Rory Read. Dr. Su has bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She has published more than 40 technical articles and was named a Fellow of the Institute of Electronics and Electrical Engineers (IEEE) in 2009. Dr. Su joined AMD in January 2012 as senior vice president and general manager, global business units and was responsible for driving end-to-end business execution of AMD’s products and solutions. Prior to joining AMD, Dr. Su was responsible for R&D, strategic directions, engineering and other things at companies like IBM and Freescale.
“Our world-class technology assets combined with the incredible talent and passion of the AMD team provide us with a unique opportunity to shape the future of computing. I look forward to expanding on the strong foundation we have built under Rory’s leadership as we develop industry-leading technologies and products for a diverse set of markets to drive sustainable and profitable growth,” said Lisa Su.
Given that Dr. Su has been responsible for AMD’s production planning for some time now, it is logical to expect her not to significantly change the company’s existing roadmap immediately. Since she naturally has slightly different vision than Mr. Read and probably will change members of the team going forward, it is reasonable to expect AMD to change its longer-term vision over time. What is unclear is how the appointment of Ms. Su affects AMD’s current execution and competitive positions of products that will be launched in 2015. In the long term the board expects Ms. Su to make the right decisions regarding the future of the company from technology standpoints.
Rory Read will support the transition in an advisory role, remaining with the company through the end of 2014.