AMD Executive Shakeup: Byrne, LaForce, and Naik Leave AMDby Ryan Smith on January 12, 2015 5:45 PM EST
Word comes via email and an 8-K filing from AMD this afternoon that AMD’s executive lineup is undergoing a significant shakeup today. All told, 3 AMD executives are leaving the company today: GM of Computing and Graphics Business Group, John Byrne; Chief Marketing Officer, Colette LaForce; and Chief Strategy Officer, Raj Naik. This comes on the heels of an already busy 2014 for AMD’s executive ranks, which saw a business unit reorganization and the promotion of Dr. Lisa Su to COO and then CEO.
Starting from the top then, the highest profile departure – and the only one mentioned in AMD’s 8-K – is John Byrne. Byrne was promoted from Chief Sales Officer to SVP and GM of Computing and Graphics Business Group only 7 months ago, so his tenure as GM has been a surprisingly short one. Byrne is said to be leaving AMD to pursue other opportunities, and unlike Byrne’s original promotion that saw the GM position filled from within, AMD tells us that they will be conducting an external search for the new GM. In the meantime Dr. Su will be filling his position as interim GM.
Second on the list of departing executives is Colette LaForce. Colette has been AMD’s Chief Marketing Officer since 2012, when she joined AMD at that level after leaving as Dell’s CMO. Like Byrne, LaForce is said to be leaving the company, though AMD has offered no further details. Finally, unlike Byrne’s GM position, no interim CMO is being announced.
The last executive departing today is Rajan Naik, AMD’s Chief Strategy Officer. Naik was hired for the CSO position in 2012, joining the company from McKinsey & Company. Like Byrne and LaForce, Naik is said to be leaving the company with no further details available.
In announcing these departures, AMD included a short statement: “These changes, including the additions of Forrest Norrod and James Clifford to our management team last quarter, collectively are part of implementing an optimal organization design and leadership team to further sharpen our execution and position AMD for growth.“
Whether this is Lisa Su merely cleaning house after being promoted to CEO or part of a greater shakeup for the company remains to be seen, and certainly this is the biggest question to come from today’s departures given the unusual mass departure. 2014 has been another rough year for AMD as they continue to seek balance as a semi-custom IP and chip designer, and while they did manage to turn a tiny profit in Q3, we’re still waiting to see how AMD closed out the year with Q4. To that end, AMD will be announcing their Q4 results on Tuesday the 20th, at which point we should have a better idea of what these departures mean for the company and what AMD’s plans are like for the rest of 2015.
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dcoca - Wednesday, January 14, 2015 - linkLMAO
jjj - Monday, January 12, 2015 - linkAs long as the 2016 new cores are going well...
They'll make it to 2016 but if those cores fail,they are more or less done.
If the new core is fit for phones they should be looking at semicustom for folks like Xiaomi or even Lenovo. Xiaomi has that JV with Leadcore assets now, they might be working on their own chops and they are likely to have rather high volumes in 2016 and beyond.. Would be much easier if AMD had any connectivity IP, hopefully they find something affordable.
fluxtatic - Tuesday, January 13, 2015 - linkThe Zen arch might get them close to parity with Intel on a node-to-node comparison (eg, AMD might be on 20nm then, which will have them to Intel's 22nm node that isn't even their front-line as of this generation.)
Anything beyond that is pushing it. Best hope is that they've got another team working hard on something to compete with the Intel Atom Trail arch.
Don't get me wrong, I say this as someone who's only used AMD since '07. But it's no secret they're struggling. Hopefully making the same long-pipeline mistake Intel did back when leads them to the same path Intel got on after P4.
Mondozai - Tuesday, January 13, 2015 - linkI think this shake-up is a GOOD thing.
First, why did a "chief sales officer" get promoted to a technical position in the first place!? No wonder AMD was falling behind. This is what I meant when I said that the company was being run by a bunch of suits who know more about MBA lingo than about the technology their company does. An overstatement, of course, but the previous CEO(Rory) and this Byrne guy fit that profile to a f---ing tee.
Second, the "chief stategy officer" came from McKinsey? Again, MBA, no technology background.
Lisa Su is a person with a deep technical background and this is the right step to take.
teldar - Tuesday, January 13, 2015 - linkI think this is probably the right take. I think that people who were not necessarily qualified for their positions or whose positions were not really needed in the first place were the people who were let go here. I would not be surprised to find out that none of these positions are actually filled and Su takes over Byrne's position on a semi-permanent basis.
wiyosaya - Wednesday, January 14, 2015 - linkAbsolutely agree with you on this. The departing execs were a bunch of clueless nitwits that were likely promised golden parachutes by Rory.
testbug00 - Monday, January 12, 2015 - linkSince when does AMD have a Chief Marketing Officer?
I swear their marketing team has been like 2 interns for the past 5+ years. Maybe 3 interns.
I love AMD, but, well, getting rid of the CMO and not hiring a new one likes saves them a small bit of money that can add up. Seriously, where does and do marketing/!?!??!?
IS81 - Monday, January 12, 2015 - linkDon't confuse marketing with advertising. They really are two rather different things.
testbug00 - Monday, January 12, 2015 - linkOh, I know some of the differences, but, AMD's marketing reach at least in the USA is small. Granted, AMD's real revenue comes from South America and Asia iirc. Which, would explain why focus is put there.
But, I'm not talking just ads. I'm also talking about stuff like the countdown with Kaveri (http://wccftech.com/amd-launches-mysterious-countd... Which was launching a chip "into space" with a balloon. Huge countdown, feeds from twitter, etc. Into a complete and utterly silly marketing concept that had nothing.
AMD's marketing team __SHOULD__ be run by a team of two interns for the USA (And Europe(?)) because, they would likely do a better job overall. To consumers, that is. Marketing for companies to make design wins is a different matter.
Granted, I cannot claim to know the right moves to make. I can just say what is being done wrong, or, at least, seemingly done wrong.
Atari2600 - Tuesday, January 13, 2015 - linkAMD marketing should be pretty simple.
1. No point spending significant amounts marketing desktops. Only those in the know will buy them at the price:performance sweetspot.
2. Partner with a laptop builder to supply APUs to market with high end components, (i.e. big good quality screen with good SSD and decent keyboard). If the laptop builders are unwilling to play ball, build them inhouse and sell directly via AMD website.
3. Workstations: AMD are nowhere here on non-HSA applications, best to save the money for the engineering teams.
4. Servers: I don't know enough about the market to be sure of how best to market to it. Although given its not a direct sell from OEM to end-user sending TECHNICAL teams to the suppliers (i.e. HP, Lenovo etc) to show them how to best utilise the hardware and its advantages vs. the competition would always be a good first step. They then make recommendations based on the needs of the end-user.
For ALL business areas, anyone should be able to buy the ENTIRE AMD range off the AMD website. Be that machines built by external builders and supplied through AMD or built in-house by AMD. Intel dominate the thoughts and websites of traditional suppliers. Don't try and fight them on that battlefield.