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AMD CEO Left Over Mobile Strategy Disagreement

By - Source: Reuters | B 41 comments

With smartphones becoming more and more powerful, the mobile market has become more important than ever for hardware companies. However, it seems disagreements in this area were a contributing factor for the departure of former AMD CEO Dirk Meyer. Reports suggest that the AMD board felt Dirk wasn’t doing enough in the mobile arena.

In a shock announcement earlier this week, AMD announced that CEO Dirk Meyer would be leaving the company. The move was said to be the result of a mutual agreement between Meyer and the AMD board, but later reports citing company sources say a large part of the reason for the now ex-CEO’s departture had to do with AMD's choice not to pursue making chips for the mobile market other than netbooks.

According to Reuters, sources withing AMD say Meyer’s leaving had a lot to do with the board’s discontent with how he handled the mobile market. Apparently Meyer’s late-2010 decision to hold off on microprocessor developments for just a little longer didn’t earn him any fans. Reuters also cites Wedbush analyst Patrick Wang who says board members felt Dirk was leading them down the wrong path.

"Strategically they (the board) didn't feel like Dirk was taking them down the road they wanted to be on. They wanted to be on the Yellow Brick Road toward tablets and smartphones," said Wang.

On Tuesday the AMD Board of Directors appointed Senior Vice President and CFO Thomas Seifert, 47, as interim CEO following Meyer’s resignation. Seifert will maintain his current responsibilities as CFO and has asked not to be considered for the permanent CEO position.

Bruce Claflin, Chairman of AMD’s Board of Directors, has been named Executive Chairman of the Board as he assumes additional oversight responsibilities during the transition period. Claflin this week commended Dirk’s performance during his time as CEO, but said a change in leadership was needed.

"Dirk became CEO during difficult times. 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," he said.

"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 these objectives."

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  • -2 Hide
    woshitudou , January 14, 2011 4:30 PM
    Cheers AMD, that's the second time the board of directors has kicked some butt. Too bad more boards weren't like that.
  • 8 Hide
    jimmysmitty , January 14, 2011 4:35 PM
    I can't understand that really. When he came on it wasn't like AMD was doing marvelous. In fact it was quite the opposite. He came on when they had consistent quarterly losses, a falling stock and a CPU that performed worse than the two year old Intel equivalent.

    Its not like he had the ability to say "Hey lets also develop for smart phones and stuff even though our core product is failing us....". He made a hard choice. It was either get AMD moving in the right direction again or go down with the ship.

    I think he made the right choice. He got AMD up and moving with a bit of steam again. In fact when he came on, Bulldozer was all but gone from road maps and he got it to the point of release this year.

    But I guess the BoD wanted him to instead focus on a segment and let their main product portfolio burn.
  • 2 Hide
    bv90andy , January 14, 2011 4:51 PM
    f*** mobile, maybe do a cpu that can surpass intel and then talk about expanding to other markets.
  • -4 Hide
    dman3k , January 14, 2011 4:59 PM
    Sure, he got AMD back barely, but at the lose of the bigger picture.

    Everyone knows the computer world is moving to the cloud while people access the cloud with smaller devices such as handhelds. And he sold Imageon to Qualcomm? That's a huge lack of vision!

    Quite frankly, seeing through GF spin-off was an easy task that many could do. But selling Imageon can only be done by someone completely inept.
  • 0 Hide
    Onus , January 14, 2011 5:01 PM
    Yeah, sounds like they made Dirk take one from behind. I just hope AMD won't dilute their efforts too much now, lose focus, and choke.
  • 0 Hide
    Yuka , January 14, 2011 5:03 PM
    Meyer said "let's hold Brazos and let Atom get the nettops/netbooks ground" when he pushed the R&D 2 years, if I recall correctly. I don't know if it was a good or bad call when they were battling bad economy and low rate of success on the x86 ground. You can now tell it was a bad move, but then, the priorities back then were others.

    Cheers!
  • 1 Hide
    rhino13 , January 14, 2011 6:26 PM
    I don't support this change in focus.
    I'm not claiming to know more than the board, but I need AMD to release another great mainstream CPU, like back in the days of the Athlon.

    Without that Intel's just gonna become more and more overpriced.

    I don't see focussing on mobile helping them take Intel.
  • 2 Hide
    megamanx00 , January 14, 2011 6:30 PM
    That board is full of morons. Dirk knew they had to work on their core products and stabilize those before investing in niche products with very slim margins. It's also pretty expensive for a company to let a CEO go and get a new one so it's not something that's done on a whim, no this took alot of foolish thought.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , January 14, 2011 6:44 PM
    Idiots... x86 is worthless for phones, diversifying into ARM is expensive and risky... Besides, there are already way too many players in the ARM business, it would be very hard to differentiate yourself from the crowd on your first attempt(ask Nvidia, re: Tegra 1).
  • 1 Hide
    someguynamedmatt , January 14, 2011 8:27 PM
    bv90andyf*** mobile, maybe do a cpu that can surpass intel and then talk about expanding to other markets.

    I love you.
    megamanx00That board is full of morons. Dirk knew they had to work on their core products and stabilize those before investing in niche products with very slim margins. It's also pretty expensive for a company to let a CEO go and get a new one so it's not something that's done on a whim, no this took alot of foolish thought.

    ...You, too.

    I love how these meatheads don't understand that you should at least have ONE thing that can perform decently compared to other companies' products. Apparently, not only does the BoD want to suck at making processors, they want to suck even more in the mobile market. I hope they're reading this right now... Hey, shitheads!... Maybe you should fix what you already have and THEN focus on expanding into other markets!

    Having been a loyal AMD customer up until now, I hope they know that their stupidity has just lost them another customer... I always thought there was actually a chance for AMD to turn itself around until just now... nope. Unless Bulldozer is an absolute tank, they're just going to stay in the same situation for many years to come.
  • -1 Hide
    killerclick , January 14, 2011 8:46 PM
    I hope mobile computing turns out to be another fad like 3D. Computer geeks should be at home in their basements and not "consuming content" "on the go". I'll do my part - I'm going to beat up the first guy I see using a laptop or a tablet in public.
  • 0 Hide
    doron , January 14, 2011 9:34 PM
    I bet the board of directors is just a bunch of rich stupid people who think the world revolves around apple-like innovation.

    Seriously, such a company must be a little conservative and stay focused on 2-3 things, you can't expect a company which struggles in low power even for netbooks (until recently with the mediocre bobcat) to succeed in the mobile market without investing an arm and a leg on a possible failure.

    Good call, Dirk, for leaving instead of giving up to this nonsense and be remembered for taking amd downhill with this bad decision.
  • 1 Hide
    kronos_cornelius , January 14, 2011 10:51 PM
    I think Meyer did a good job. But it would be a mistake to underestimate the mobile sector. After all, how many mainframe companies do we know today that underestimated the humbler PC in the 80's. The only one I can remember is IBM, and that is because it embraced the PC revolution.

    I would advice AMD to go in Nvidia's direction and create a Fission CPU with ARM architecture. Just like Nvidia will have a big impact due to its superior technology in GPU's (SMP), so too should AMD with it ATI division.

    I know AMD has a lot invested in x86, but if Intel has not been able to lower the power consumption on x86 by now, AMD should not waste more money on that endeavor. I think is easier for AMD to switch architectures. AMD is not as married to x86 as Intel since they don't own the patents.
  • 1 Hide
    Nintendork , January 14, 2011 11:39 PM
    doronI bet the board of directors is just a bunch of rich stupid people who think the world revolves around apple-like innovation.Seriously, such a company must be a little conservative and stay focused on 2-3 things, you can't expect a company which struggles in low power even for netbooks (until recently with the mediocre bobcat) to succeed in the mobile market without investing an arm and a leg on a possible failure.Good call, Dirk, for leaving instead of giving up to this nonsense and be remembered for taking amd downhill with this bad decision.


    Bobcat destroy Atom in power, power efficiency and price. Is that what you call medioce? Come on...

    Brazos is an awesome platform, not even with the help of ION Atom can compete, their cpu's sux, their igp sux, using nvidia ION the power consumption is near 50%+ higher than a equivalent Zacate+HD6310.

    At the same price of an ION you get more cpu, more gpu more ram, HDD, etc with a Zacate setup.

  • 1 Hide
    Marcus52 , January 15, 2011 12:04 AM
    If Meyers was intending to slow down all processor development, I'm for the boards decision, on a personal level. On a business level I don't think it's the right time to slow down mobile development either, because there is a lot of competition and AMD needs to get their offerings in the ring and well developed pronto. Dirk may have done a great job getting AMD back on track, but I'm not as sure he would be taking them in the direction I'd like to see in the future. I thought differently before - but that's what we get for guessing from the outside about what's really going on in AMD.

    ;) 
  • 0 Hide
    rohitbaran , January 15, 2011 12:36 AM
    He wasn't leading right!
  • -1 Hide
    rohitbaran , January 15, 2011 12:39 AM
    On a serious note though, I think, along with a lot of people here that the CEO was right about fixing the CPU market first before going serious about the mobile market.
  • 2 Hide
    msgun98 , January 15, 2011 1:12 AM
    yannigr but Zacate doesn't show me that they can compete.


    If you actually look at how it performs over intel's offerings and at its pricepoint, I think you would completely reconsider this statement. At this point there are VERY few PC users that would ever need more than a Zacate based laptop... its quite snappy, plays 1080p vids great, multitasks well. Only thing it doesn't do is power-user stuff like 300dpi photoshop images, HD video editing, 3D rendering, etc. The majority of PC users don't do any of these things. I think AMD has a winner here and I think it will show in their earnings next year.
  • 0 Hide
    goodguy713 , January 15, 2011 1:24 AM
    dman3kSure, he got AMD back barely, but at the lose of the bigger picture.Everyone knows the computer world is moving to the cloud while people access the cloud with smaller devices such as handhelds. And he sold Imageon to Qualcomm? That's a huge lack of vision!Quite frankly, seeing through GF spin-off was an easy task that many could do. But selling Imageon can only be done by someone completely inept.


    Personally i would never use a cloud service .. lack of security and most of the internet connections here in the US suck ! compared to england or austrailia seriously . i mean why would any one want to do that?... AMD should remain focused on whats important building on the core buisness of consumer and hardcore grade processors and not just some watered down chunk of silicon. opteron grade hardware/ reliability with the speed of a 980x would be awesome .. if you have not figgured it out .. apple and invidia pretty much have the low power processor market tied up baring a few snapdragons..point being stay focused dont give up just because things get difficult.
  • 0 Hide
    eddieroolz , January 15, 2011 2:02 AM
    I personally applaud him for turning AMD around into a competitor to Intel once again. He really did lead AMD through some difficult times. AMD was in no position to branch off excessively - that would have overstretched their R&D department.
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