May 12, 2008

AMD Shuffles Org Chart

Michael Feldman

Late Monday, AMD announced an executive shakeup and the creation of a new centralized engineering organization. “We are accelerating AMD’s transformation, reshaping the organization and bolstering our management team to lead in our x86 microprocessor and graphics businesses,” said Dirk Meyer, AMD president and COO.

In fact, Mario Rivas, formerly executive VP of the Computing Solutions Group, and Michel Cadieux, formerly senior VP and chief talent officer, were accelerated right out of their jobs. Whether they left willingly is a matter of speculation. Rivas, in particular, might have been forced to walk the plank because of the Barcelona launch fiasco. To replace Cadieux, AMD promoted Allen Sockwell. According to the company, both Cadieux and Rivas resigned to “pursue other opportunities.”

The fact is the struggling chipmaker has been hemorrhaging execs for almost a year. Dave Orton, head of AMD’s graphics unit, left in July 2007; Henri Richard, head of sales, resigned a couple of months later in September; and CTO Phil Hester quit the company just last month.

Meanwhile Randy Allen, formerly head of the workstation and server group, will replace Rivas as the senior VP of the Computing Solutions Group. In his new role, Allen will report directly to Dirk Meyer and will be responsible for the development of the company’s microprocessors and chipset platforms. The twenty-four year AMD veteran was part of the microprocessor engineering group that introduced the original Opteron and Athlon 64 processors.

The new Central Engineering organization will be run by Chekib Akrout and Jeff VerHeul. Akrout is a new hire from Freescale, while VerHeul is being shifted from his spot as VP of design engineering at AMD. The new engineering team will consolidate the development of AMD’s technology and product roadmaps and will report directly to Dirk Meyer.

The reorg is inline with previously announced layoffs totaling 1,600 workers — about 10 percent of the workforce — scheduled to be completed by the end of the third quarter. Whether any of this helps AMD get back to profitability remains to be seen, but after suffering financial losses totaling $4.3 billion over the past six quarters, there was bound to be some bloodletting.

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