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"Reap what you sow," they say. But it ain't always that easy.
Just ask former Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE: AMD ) CEO Dirk Meyer. While holding that job, he sowed the seeds to AMD's current strategy, which seems to be working A-OK. A heap of new chips introduced this week are being heralded as "a real challenge" to mainstream notebook and desktop chips from Intel (Nasdaq: INTC ) . As an example, a new line of AMD-based Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ ) notebooks appears aimed straight at Intel's highest-volume market segment. with a serious marketing push by HP.
This breaks a long spell of AMD occupying the most budget-conscious spaces, while leaving more profitable market slots to its larger competitor. The new Llano chips are souped-up versions of the ultralight chips introduced right around Meyer's ousting, and they represent an important step in the multiyear plan that was designed under his reign. This is the culmination of the long-derided ATI acquisition and the resulting Fusion strategy. But Meyer isn't there to reap the fruits of that labor (though I hear the severance package was pretty nice).
That would be well and good if AMD's board had a successor in mind. As it turns out, the board did -- but the top candidates didn't want the job. Oops.
According to a Bloomberg report, AMD's headhunters have approached former HP CEO and current Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL ) co-President Mark Hurd, Carlyle Group director Greg Summe, and EMC (NYSE: EMC ) COO Pat Gelsinger, hat in hand and a box of chocolates at the ready, only to be rebuffed.
Gelsinger went so far as going on the record: "I said no, and I said no again," he told Bloomberg. Can you feel the love tonight?
Running AMD is a thankless job for sure. Meyer went from strength to strength and was rewarded with a pink slip just as his efforts started bringing AMD's bottom line out of the red and into the black. The new leader would be expected to lead AMD into smartphones and tablets, which Meyer wasn't terribly enthusiastic about doing. But then you're trading a single huge competitor against a gaggle of firmly established players from Texas Instruments to Qualcomm (Nasdaq: QCOM ) -- not to mention familiar old bugbear NVIDIA (Nasdaq: NVDA ) .
Does that space really need another hopeful competitor when AMD could simply focus on taking share from Intel in its traditional markets? I think not.
As a contrite AMD shareholder, I wish whoever takes the job the best of luck -- with pleasing the board more than refining Meyer's road map.
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