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Dirk Meyer left his CEO position at Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE: AMD ) under murky circumstances, to say the least. The Wall Street Journal and others have unearthed some clues through their usual network of unnamed sources -- and I don't like what I see.
According to the WSJ, AMD's board of directors grew impatient with Meyer's lack of enthusiasm for mobile devices. He saw lots of demand for mobile processors, but told reporters at last week's CES gala that the margins in that space were too slim to be attractive. For that offense, he had to go -- and since the board has such immense faith in CFO Tom Seifert's ability to run the ship for a while, he left immediately.
If that's really how the deal went down, AMD needs a new board of directors. This mentality would make sense -- does make sense -- for processor market leader Intel (Nasdaq: INTC ) . It would be irresponsible for Intel not to expand its horizons into the exploding tablet and smartphone markets.
But it's a different story for AMD. So what if the board is concerned that desktop and notebook sales are leveling off? AMD is an underdog, and it can grow comfortably even in a shrinking market by stealing share from Intel. Meyer wanted the mobile space to mature before he made any specific moves in that direction -- a perfectly reasonable approach.
Let the market define its own boundaries, and then you can shoot at a stationary target. Intel may or may not make a mint in mobile computing, but the incumbent leader ARM Holdings (Nasdaq: ARMH ) and its many partners keep moving the goalposts. Meanwhile, MIPS Technologies (Nasdaq: MIPS ) could usurp ARM's hegemony before Intel and its Atom chips go anywhere.
Meyer's ouster is a knee-jerk reaction from a nervous and impatient board. If I ran a large hedge fund, I'd put together a competing slate of directors for AMD's next round of shareholder voting, in which all nine of the directors risk their tenures.
But I don't have that power. Instead, I can only helplessly watch as AMD's board kicks out one of its finest assets.
Follow this edge-of-your-seat saga by adding AMD to your Foolish watchlist.