Advanced Micro Devices Inc. on Thursday appointed Hector de J. Ruiz as its CEO, handing over the reins from William “Jerry” Sanders III, whos held the position since helping co-found the chip maker in 1969.
Sanders, 65, will continue to serve as the companys chairman through 2003. AMD, based in Sunnyvale, Calif., first disclosed the planned transition last year after renegotiating and extending Sanders contract through next year.
“Its been a great, great 33 years as CEO,” Sanders said at AMDs shareholder meeting Thursday. “Weve always tried to do whats right for the shareholder, whats right for the customer and whats right for the AMD employees. Its been a difficult balancing act. Ive done my best.”
Over the years, Sanders has proven to be one of Intel Corp.s most outspoken critics, labeling the giant chip maker an “800-pound gorilla” that threatens and bullies its much smaller rivals.
By contrast, Ruiz is a soft-spoken executive, at least in public gatherings, who appears more at ease discussing technological aspects of the business, and not likely to espouse Sanders David-vs.-Goliath perspective of the industry.
Ruiz, 56, joined AMD in January 2000 as president and chief operating officer. He was hired away from Motorola Inc., where he worked his way up through executive ranks during a 22-year career.
Ruiz first garnered widespread industry attention in 1997 when he took over Motorolas then struggling Semiconductor Products Sector. In overseeing a dramatic shakeup of the division, including significant cost cutting that included laying off thousands of workers, Ruiz was credited with increasing the units profitability from $382 million in 1997 to about $620 million in 1999.
Born in Piedras Negras, Mexico, Ruiz became a U.S. citizen in 1975. Currently, he is the only Hispanic-American to serve as chief executive of one of Silicon Valleys top companies.