The Switch, Part One

We look at some of the positives of the AMD CEO switch.

So what are we to think about the new head of AMD?

I read this appraisal over at Fudzilla, “We believe he is the perfect man for the job but we also know that he is afraid of journalists and doesn’t really like to talk to the public.”

When I saw the second half of that sentence, my knee-jerk reaction was “Excellent!”

AMD doesn’t need to talk right now; AMD needs to do.

From a public relations standpoint, AMD’s maxim at this point in time should be, “Less talk, more information” and I think there’s a pretty good chance we’re going to get that under Meyer.
if only because he doesn’t like to talk. Indeed, if only due to a belated realization that few were buying the spew any longer, they have gotten better this year.

I’ve listened to a lot of AMD conference calls featuring Ruiz and Meyer, and more often than not, Ruiz would talk a lot more, but Meyer would actually say something here and there.

You also got the impression that Mr. Ruiz really wasn’t very interested in the nuts and bolts of the business, it seemed a little beneath him. To some degree, that’s understandable for a CEO, but Hector actively avoided that type of discussion. Technical terms seemed to be more a supply source for buzzwords for the BS than anything else.

In contrast, Meyer seems to have an attitude more like, “If I actually tell them something substantial, maybe they’ll go away and I can get back to work.” Also unlike Ruiz, he also seem unsure about success at times and displays some reluctance about making promises he thinks he might not be able to keep. I think some of this is due to a fundamental honesty. I suspect there is also an increased awareness of just what and how much needs to be done to get X done by Y date, and a sense of personal responsibility to get them done as promised.

Something else I think will emerge as Ruiz fades away from the real business of the company is an increased sense at AMD of the competitive world they live in. Bizarre as it may seem, under Ruiz, AMD often seemed to be oblivious to what Intel was quite publicly planning to do, then got blindsided and began to react only after Intel had done it: dual-channel RAM, C2D, Atom. It’s very easy to imagine a CEO not very interested in the gritty details of technology not paying attention or ignoring the warning signs, especially when they were unpleasant warning signs. It’s easy to imagine an heir apparent not wanting to confront such a boss too much over such issues. It’s a lot harder to see Meyer as CEO acting that way, at least not “What problem . . . we don’t have to . . . it can wait . . . OMG, we have to do this now!!”

To summarize, I think AMD has replaced a showhorse with a workhorse, much like Hewlett-Packard replaced Carly Fiorina with Mark Hurd.

These are all positives, and I think that AMD will not only talk a lot less and inform a little more under Meyer, I think they also get somebody a lot more attuned to getting the products out the door and done on time.

That’s good, but is it enough? We’ll talk about that tomorrow.


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