AMD Picks Former Lenovo COO As New Boss

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AMD has finally appointed a new boss, eight months after the board forced Dirk Meyer to resign

It has taken a long time but Advanced Micro Devices has finally appointed a new boss, eight months after Dirk Meyer was forced to resign as CEO of the world’s second-largest chip maker.

Meyer replacement comes from the executive ranks of PC vendor Lenovo.

AMD on 25 August announced that Rory Read is the company’s new president and CEO. Read most recently was president and COO of Lenovo, and prior to that had spent 23 years with IBM. Read also will be on the company’s board of directors.

Rory Read

AMD Board Chairman Bruce Claflin noted Read’s record of driving profit growth during his time with Lenovo as a key asset that he brings to the chip vendor.

“He is ideally suited to accelerate AMD’s evolution into the world’s leading semiconductor design company,” Claflin said in a statement. “As president and COO of Lenovo, he helped take the company into dynamic new markets while growing market share and expanding profitability. His sound strategic thinking and natural customer orientation will help amplify the voice of the customer inside AMD.”

According to AMD, Read was in charge of Lenovo’s day-to-day operations worldwide, including pushing forward the company’s growth strategy. He was responsible for double-digit revenue growth and market-share gains. He had been president and COO at Lenovo for the past two years.

“I’m very pleased to be joining AMD at this important time in its history,” Read said in a statement. “AMD is a true innovator and is uniquely positioned to lead the industry forward, delivering the next big thing, both within the PC ecosystem and beyond. AMD has strong momentum and the opportunity to continue profitably gaining share based on its highly differentiated products, solid financial foundation, and passionate and committed employees.”

Read’s appointment brings stability to AMD as it pushes forward its Fusion strategy. AMD’s Fusion accelerated processing units (APUs) offer the graphics chip and CPU on the same piece of silicon, a move designed to improve the performance and energy efficiency of the chips. AMD rolled out the first of its Fusion processors at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show in January.

At the same time, rival Intel unveiled its “Sandy Bridge” architecture, which also integrates the graphics and compute capabilities onto a single die.

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AMD’s new chips received good publicity, which made Meyer’s resignation days later even more surprising.

Meyer resigned after a disagreement with the board about the direction of the company. Board members reportedly believed AMD was missing an opportunity in the tablet and smartphone markets. They also were unhappy with AMD’s recent performance in the server space.

Thomas Seifert, senior vice president and CFO, has been the company’s interim CEO since Meyer left, but said he had no interest in taking the job permanently. Over the past few months, a number of high-profile names – including former Intel executive and current EMC COO Pat Gelsinger; Mark Hurd, ex-CEO at Hewlett-Packard and current Oracle president; and Tim Cook, at the time Apple’s COO and now the CEO of the company – were floated as people approached by AMD about the job, but nothing materialised.

Analysts said Seifert had done a good job running the company and making decisions on its future; for example, he said AMD saw a good opportunity in tablets but would not enter the smartphone space, at least not yet – but that the long search for Meyer’s permanent replacement was becoming a drag on the company. AMD’s stock price over the year reportedly has fallen as much as 22 percent.

AMD has seen its share of the global chip market grow over the past year, climbing to 19.4 percent in the second quarter, according to Mercury Research. It had been 17.8 percent during the same period in 2010. Intel continues to dominate the space, with a 79.9 percent market share.

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