Dirk Meyer leaves AMD under odd circumstances

Mutual parting my *ss

AMD logoDIRK MEYER’S DEPARTURE from AMD is being touted as a mutual understanding and a gracious parting of the ways. That may be the official reasoning, Dirk wasn’t exploiting opportunities, doesn’t pass the sniff test.

Officially, the reason that the board and Dirk parted ways was that they felt he wasn’t being aggressive enough in exploiting new opportunities. He is said to have a very different view of the situation than the board, and they couldn’t agree on a path. So, in a flurry of niceties, they lovingly parted ways. Bull.

Why do I say that? Easy, when a CEO departs a company on good terms like AMD is officially saying happened, the replacement is either named at the same time, or the CEO sticks around until they find a new one. Keeping the old one around until the new person is in place, showing him or her the ropes, and smoothly transitioning power minimizes disruption. Two sides that like each other do it this way. Two sides that do not like each other, or a firing, end up with the CEO leaving abruptly, without a successor. This isn’t to say that Thomas Seifert wasn’t a born interim CEO, it’s just that it isn’t something that either side likely wanted.

Sources at AMD say that talks had been going on for months about the issue, but no specific reason was given. Things obviously came to a head recently, and now AMD has an interim head. Saying that it was mutual and happy simply is not the case.

Most people seem to put on their 20/20 hindsight glasses when talking about ex-AMD CEOs, and forget the mess that each one was handed. When Dirk took over, the product roadmap was a mess, and 2009 and 2010 was shaping up to be a slaughter for AMD. It took a lot of tap dancing to clean up the product pipeline while keeping things afloat.

In 2011, the first of those changes have hit the market, with many more to come. The company has the best GPU line on the market, a killer low end mobile part, and for the first time ever, a credible laptop chip on the verge of release. Topping it off, there is yet another new server/high end desktop core waiting in the wings, not to mention integrating a real GPU on the CPU die. Under Meyer, AMD navigated the hump of possibly the largest product dry spell since they stopped fabbing Intel designs.

Anyone who thinks that AMD was not being aggressive enough has a very curious view of the products available to throw at the competition. From this point forward, aggressiveness is called for, but we will never know if Dirk was capable of that now.

In the end, whatever the reasons were behind the scenes, the official excuses don’t hold water. The parting wasn’t happy, nor is it very likely that it was mutual. All the signs point to a knifing, a dirking if you will. That being said, it is done, and a replacement is already being looked for. One can only hope the person will be a strong technical leader rather than a financial, or worse yet, marketing bred CEO. One thing it won’t be is a boring search.S|A

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Charlie Demerjian

Roving engine of chaos and snide remarks at SemiAccurate
Charlie Demerjian is the founder of Stone Arch Networking Services and SemiAccurate.com. SemiAccurate.com is a technology news site; addressing hardware design, software selection, customization, securing and maintenance, with over one million views per month. He is a technologist and analyst specializing in semiconductors, system and network architecture. As head writer of SemiAccurate.com, he regularly advises writers, analysts, and industry executives on technical matters and long lead industry trends. Charlie is also available through Guidepoint and Mosaic. FullyAccurate