AMD Bombshell: Dirk Meyer Out as CEO

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In a surprise announcement, AMD said today that CEO Dirk Meyer has resigned as president, CEO and director of the company effective immediately.

Bruce Claflin, Chairman of AMD’s Board of Directors, is leading a search committee to find a replacement for Meyer. Industry veteran Claflin was also named Executive Chairman of the Board and will assume additional oversight responsibilities at AMD (NYSE: AMD) during the transition period to a new CEO, the company said. Seifert will maintain his CFO responsibilities and has asked not to be considered for the position of permanent CEO.

"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 (NASDAQ: INTC) and delivering Fusion APUs to the market," Claflin said in a statement.

"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."

One of Meyer's greatest accomplishments was finalizing a $1.25 billion settlement with Intel(NASDAQ: INTC) back in November, 2009 over the chip giant's business practices that ended years of litigation between the two firms.

Chip analyst Nathan Brookwood credited Meyer with righting AMD's ship from an engineering and product lineup perspective, but speculated that AMD's board may be after someone with more marketing experience than Meyer who has an extensive engineering background.

"I've been on the phone with people at AMD and I get the impression they're looking for someone to take the company to a higher level, someone with a proven track record as CEO," Brookwood, principal analyst with Insight64, told InternetNews.com. "Dirk moved up the ranks at AMD and was well-regarded inside the company, but he's had to rely on subordinates when it came to making marketing decisions."

By contrast, Brookwood noted that Intel CEO Paul Otellini moved up the ranks with a marketing background. Brookwood said he thinks from a marketing perspective, Meyer has actually set the table nicely for a new CEO.

"AMD's product lineup and technology has never been stronger," he said. "One thing Dirk did was beef up the R&D ranks tremendously," he said. "Some might question how long it took to get the new Fusion products to market, but it's silly to argue over a few months."

Brookwood said a real coup for the new CEO would be to get Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) to adopt the company's Fusion integrated graphics processor. "Apple's currently shipping a three year old Intel Core 2 Duo with an Nvidia chipset because it didn't like Intel's integrated graphics," he said. "It would make tremendous sense to have that in the MacBook Air," said Brookwood.

AMD's stock was down 4.24 percent in after hours trading to $8.80.

David Needle is the West Coast bureau chief at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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