AMD Gains a CFO, but Loses a Chip Engineer to Samsung

AMD's management changes continue, with longtime company veteran Devinder Kumar replacing Thomas Seifert in the top financial management job.

Advanced Micro Devices continues to see change in its executive ranks, naming a permanent chief financial officer just weeks after a vice president and top design engineer left the company to become a vice president with rival Samsung Electronics.

AMD announced Jan. 2 that Devinder Kumar, a 28-year veteran with the chip maker who had served as interim CFO since Thomas Seifert's departure in September 2012, is now the permanent CFO and a senior vice president. Kumar's appointment came a week after reports began circulating that Michael Goddard, a corporate vice president and chief engineer, had jumped ship to take a similar job with Samsung at its offices in Austin, Texas.

The moves are only the latest changes AMD has seen in leadership since Rory Read was hired in August 2011 to replace Dirk Meyer as CEO. Since then, the chip vendor has seen significant turnover in its executive ranks, both through efforts by Read to reshape the management team and via other executives opting for new jobs with other companies.

The comings and goings have hit AMD at most levels of management, with some of those leaving having had long tenures with AMD, such as Rick Bergman, who had been at AMD since 2006 after the chip maker bought graphics technology maker ATI. Bergman is now president and CEO of Synaptics, which makes interface technologies. More recently, AMD in July 2012 lost John Bruno, a chip engineer and systems architect who left for a job with Apple, and in September lost, Chris Cloran, general manager in charge of AMD's client products.

Coming in are Lisa Su, a former IBM executive who is senior vice president and general manager of AMD's global business units; CTO Mark Papermaster, who once was with IBM and Apple; and Suresh Gopalakrishnan (formerly of Extreme Networks) as corporate vice president and general manager of AMD's server business. And soon after losing Bruno, AMD took on Apple processor expert Jim Keller and later hired John Gustafson from rival Intel to head up its Graphics Business Unit, which includes the Radeon and FirePro product lines.

Goddard, who had been with AMD for 25 years, is now vice president and chief systems architect at Samsung's research and development center. The move by Goddard, who had last been working with AMD's client products, comes at a time when Samsung appears to be ramping up its efforts in building server chips. In August 2012, reports circulated that Samsung is looking to build low-power server chips based on designs from ARM Holdings, making it one of a growing number of chip makers looking to ARM designs to challenge Intel in the data center.

Seifert, who served as interim CEO during the seven months between Meyer's departure and Read's arrival, left the company in September 2012 to pursue other opportunities. Analysts speculated that Seifert, who was praised for his work as interim CEO, wanted to land a permanent top-executive job with a company somewhere else. With the 50-year-old Read in place at AMD, the chances of that happening at the chip maker were remote.

AMD officials said they were pleased to have Kumar already in the fold at AMD.

"Devinder has been with AMD for more than 28 years and is a talented finance veteran with deep industry knowledge," Read said in a statement. "As we accelerate our strategic growth initiatives, Devinder will play an integral role driving the new business model in the near term and strengthening AMD's long-term financial foundation."

Read has been trying to stabilize the company for more than a year. Like such tech vendors as Intel, Hewlett-Packard and Dell, AMD's fortunes have taken a significant hit as PC sales worldwide have slowed, due in large part of the uncertain global economy and the rise in popularity of smartphones and tablets.

According to AMD officials, the PC chip business accounts for about 85 percent of the company's revenues. They want to drop that to 40 to 50 percent by focusing on growth areas, such as dense servers, embedded systems and ultra-portable computing devices, such as ultrathin systems, tablets and entry-level notebooks.

After a difficult third quarter in 2012, AMD officials also announced the company was shedding about 1,770 jobs—or about 15 percent of its workforce—in hopes of saving about $210 million in expenses.