AMD board ousts Dirk Meyer, will seek new CEO

The press release says much of what you'll want to know:

SUNNYVALE, Calif. — Jan. 10, 2011 — AMD (NYSE: AMD) today announced that its Board of Directors has appointed Senior Vice President and CFO Thomas Seifert, 47, as interim CEO following the resignation of Dirk Meyer, 49, as president, CEO and a director of the company effective immediately.

A CEO Search Committee has been formed to begin the search for a new CEO. The Committee is led by Bruce Claflin, Chairman of AMD’s Board of Directors, who has been named Executive Chairman of the Board as he assumes additional oversight responsibilities during the transition period. Seifert will maintain his current responsibilities as CFO and has asked not to be considered for the permanent CEO position. "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," said Claflin.

"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."

This comes as a shock to me, like apparently many things in the new year. Meyer had successfully moved AMD into what looked to be a much more competitive position in many respects, but evidently AMD's board of directors wasn't impressed with Meyer's plan for AMD's future.

That last paragraph from the press release above is key to understanding what's taken place. Although it's always possible in such matters that there's more to the story than meets the eye, I currently believe the motivations behind this change are exactly what the press release implies. AMD's board of directors disagreed with Meyer about the future direction of the company and chose to part with him over it.

That may seem a little crazy from the outside looking in, but we don't yet know the substance of the disagreement.

Could it be that the board wants to see AMD shift its focus to mobile devices and embedded systems, a la Intel's latest "right-hand turn" aimed at promoting Atom practically everywhere and Nvidia's growing focus on Tegra? That's just a guess, but given the way AMD's two main competitors have moved in that direction, one can certainly feel the winds shifting.

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