Dirk Meyer, who took over as AMD's CEO in 2008 and helped stabilize the company, resigns as the board of directors looks for faster growth.
More than two years after taking over a struggling Advanced Micro Devices
and returning it to stability, Dirk Meyer has been forced out as CEO
of the world's second largest chip maker by a board of directors apparently
looking for faster growth.
resignation Jan. 10 surprised many industry observers, particularly given the
strong showing AMD had at the just concluded
Consumer Electronics Show 2011, the announcement of its first
and the fact that the company was 10 days away from
announcing fourth-quarter financial numbers that promised solid if not
out of CES last week, I thought the company had done very well," Charles
King, an analyst with Pund-IT Research, said in an interview with eWEEK. "I
came away feeling very impressed with the number of products I saw, but I guess
things were not all that good in AMDville."
his tenure as AMD's chief executive, Meyer
oversaw the company's shedding of its manufacturing facilities-which spun off
to create GlobalFoundries-the settlement of its long-standing legal dispute
with larger rival Intel and the launch of the first of its Fusion APU
(accelerated processing unit) chips, which integrate the CPU and graphics
capabilities on a single die. The APU launch
was the result of a vision AMD officials had
when they bought graphics technology maker ATI
in 2006. However, the delays in bringing out the Fusion line allowed Intel to
catch up with its "Sandy Bridge"
processor platform that offers integrated graphics and, like the Fusion APUs,
also launched last week at CES.
a statement released by the company's board of directors, Chairman Bruce Claflin
thanked Meyer for his leadership over the past two-plus years as CEO,
but indicated there was a disagreement about the direction and vision for the
company as it enters an important 2011.
became CEO during difficult times,"
Claflin said in the statement. "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. 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
Kay, an analyst with Endpoint Technologies Associates, said the timing of Meyer's
departure left him a little bewildered as well. After eliminating such
possibilities as company finances, AMD's
technology road map and personal scandal, Kay said the only possibility that
made sense was leadership.
probably the business of vision, and whether or not [Meyer] can be the
inspiring leader and bring the company to the next level," Kay said in an
interview with eWEEK.
engineering background has served him well in his various roles within AMD.
Before becoming CEO, Meyer was instrumental
in the development of Opteron, which when released in 2003 gave AMD
a technological advantage over Intel in the highly competitive server space.
However, as CEO he has been viewed as
somewhat "pedestrian" in his long-term views for the company, not
tremendously inspiring and as a "caretaker" until the board could
find a more visionary person for the job, Kay said.
issue of Dirk being more of a mechanic than a visionary might have been reason
for it," he said.
anonymous sources, Bloomberg
that several months ago, Meyer and other executives presented
a strategic plan that disappointed the directors, who were looking for more
aggressive changes. They also reportedly have been troubled by AMD's
inability to take server chip market share away from Intel and AMD's
slow response to the rise of tablet PCs.
October, while announcing quarterly financial results, Meyer said AMD
a slower approach
than Intel in the burgeoning tablet market, but promised
strong products when AMD eventually did step
into the space. That came two days after Intel CEO
Paul Otellini said his company would quickly become
a major player
in the tablet market, which was reinvigorated last year with
the release by Apple of the iPad.
King said Opteron has been an area where AMD
has faltered recently. The platform gave AMD
an early advantage over Intel, but the larger chip maker stormed back with
enhancements to its Xeon products, and while Intel made headlines with the chips,
AMD was unable to come up with a strong
narrative for Opteron.
couldn't capitalize on the initial Opteron push," King said.
resignation also comes at a time when threats are coming from places other than
just Intel. As Intel and AMD look to push
their x86 technology down the ladder into such devices as tablets and
smartphones, a growing number of chip makers-such as Marvell and others, which
use low-power processor designs from ARM
Holdings normally found in mobile devices, and Tilera
which is developing its own chips-are targeting the data center. ARM
CEO Warren East
said last month that he expects his company will be able to
challenge Intel chips in the data center by 2014.
Siefert, senior vice president and CFO, will serve as interim CEO
while a search committee looks to find a replacement for Meyer.
said the company will probably look for a more dynamic person than Meyer. He
pointed to Intel's Otellini, who he said is good at bringing Intel's message to
can talk about that [technology] in a way that is compelling to any audience,"