Human Resources

Embattled AMD Changes CEO Again

As reasons go for waving goodbye to a CEO it was weak: AMD has announced the departure of Rory Read (interview here), the former Lenovo COO who has led the chip maker for the last three years, saying that the time was right to put in place his successor, Lisa Su.

Read didn’t engineer the kind of financial turnaround AMD’s board must have had in mind when, after a prolonged search, it appointed him in 2011. But he did provide leadership, a clear strategy and a new focus on delivering the goods at a company where ‘execution’, ‘hitting deadlines’ and ‘meeting commitments’ to customers’ had long seemed phrases from another language.

Read wanted to edge AMD out of Intel’s shadow and the relentless beatings administered by its bigger PC chip maker rival. His focus was on new, emerging sectors: embedded gear, consoles, cloud servers and so on. He was perhaps the right man at the wrong time and in the end, AMD was maybe too weak and battle weary and its funds too meagre to pull off the new strategy. That said, three years seems a small window for pulling off such a turnaround.

If it really was a case of Read having accomplished his mission and then standing aside for a person better suited to the next stage of the task then AMD should have communicated this better. If there are other reasons for Read’s departure they should have been stated. Some will look for signs that the company will sell out: if that’s the case then Su, an engineer with 13 years at IBM on her CV, appears an unlikely choice of leader.

AMD lost its cloud server chief, Andrew Feldman (interview here), a few months ago and now it has lost another CEO. The future for this legendary Silicon Valley veteran is obscure.


Martin Veitch is Editorial Director at IDG Connect


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Martin Veitch

Martin Veitch is Contributing Editor for IDG Connect

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