As part of AMD’s broader restructuring efforts, back in June the company announced a business reorganization that would see the company organized into two major groups, the Computing and Graphics Business Group, and the Enterprise, Embedded and Semi-Custom Business Group. Furthermore at the time AMD promoted Dr. Lisa Su to the position of Chief Operating Officer (COO), a position that previously had been unfilled at AMD for some time.

Now 4 months later it turns out that Lisa’s time as COO will be a short one. Today AMD has announced that effective immediately, current CEO Rory Read will be stepping down. In his place Lisa is being promoted to President and CEO of the company, making her the 5th CEO in the company’s history.

With Lisa’s previous promotion to COO, she had essentially already been promoted to AMD’s second-in-command under Rory, so this is a straightforward promotion over at AMD. More significantly, given the resurrection of the COO post there has been good reason to suspect that Lisa was bound for a promotion to CEO sooner than later. And now that AMD has finally promoted Lisa to CEO, they are confirming that the above was exactly the plan, and that Rory has been preparing her for the CEO role for some time.

For his part, the retirement of Rory signifies that AMD’s transition is nearly complete and that his role is coming to an end. Rory was brought on in 2011 to restructure and stabilize the company after its struggles late in the last decade and at the start of this one, with an emphasis on diversifying the company beyond its traditional (and troubled) x86 and graphics products. While AMD remains significantly vested in those products, they now have a sizable business presence in other fields/technologies such as ARM processors and semi-custom IP designs, which as part of AMD and Rory’s plans ensure the company isn’t overexposed to any single business. And on the financial side AMD is unfortunately still operating at a loss, but if all goes according to plan that should be coming to an end this year.

Though AMD has never called Rory a transitional CEO, his actions overhauling AMD over the last 3 years and now stepping down as CEO after the fact serve to cement the fact that Rory was brought on board to execute the necessary restructuring rather than to lead the company in the long term. AMD is still in the process of developing some of the silicon that will be the basis of these business plans – including the x86 and ARM versions of the K12 processor – so it will be a bit longer yet until the company can fully execute on their ambidextrous plans, but on the business and development side they have completed the necessary changes to allow that. With those changes behind them AMD is now ready to move out of their transitional phase and in to their new position as a diversified IP designer, which is what has led to Rory’s retirement and Lisa’s promotion.

Internally for AMD and its product lineups, Lisa’s promotion should not result in significant changes. She has already been overseeing much of AMD throughout her career there – first as SVP of Global Business Units and then as COO – meaning that although the CEO is changing, the person overseeing much of AMD’s product lineup is not. Working alongside AMD’s CTO, Mark Papermaster, AMD’s product leadership is more or less unchanged.

Meanwhile the transition from Rory to Lisa means that AMD is also once again being led by an engineer (and a very capable one at that), which AMD leadership is treating as a great strength going forward. Lisa holds a doctorate in electrical engineering from MIT and has previously held positions at IBM and Texas Instruments, including semiconductor research and development, and is much of the reason she joined the company at the SVP level in 2012. Being the CEO is about business as much as it is about technology, but with AMD’s business situation settled by Rory, this should give Lisa a chance to settle in and focus on driving and improving AMD’s technological situation, which is ultimately what will make or break the company. AMD now has a number of very capable engineers leading the company at multiple levels, including Lisa, CTO Mark Papermaster, and K12 designer Jim Keller, so the company should be in a good position going forward.

Finally, this promotion means that AMD’s executive lineup has been slightly shuffled once more. The COO position was recreated for Lisa and now it seems just for Lisa; it will not be filled now that she is CEO, and those responsibilities will be staying with her. Meanwhile AMD is also noting that while Rory is stepping down as CEO effective immediately, he will be staying with the company in an advisory role to help see out the company through the rest of 2014.

Source: AMD

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  • Nehemoth - Wednesday, October 08, 2014 - link

    Unexpected Reply
  • Mark_gb - Friday, October 10, 2014 - link

    Not for many of us. I remember reading somewhere right after Lisa Su was brought in that she was CEO caliber talent. She most certainly has the engineering background that AMD needs running the company.

    As soon as they announced that the COO position was being recreated and filled by her, I knew she would be the next AMD CEO. And that was not all that long ago.

    AMD now has an amazing group of engineers running the company. Watch what they pump out over the next 24 months. It should be spectacular!
    Reply
  • tim851 - Wednesday, October 08, 2014 - link

    >making her the 5th CEO in the company’s history

    Well, 2, 3 and 4 sucked balls, so good luck to her. AMD needs to get their sh!t together. In absence of any competition Intel has treated CPU pricing like it's carved in stone. And nVidia has last produced an amazing bang for the buck when the GeForce 460 had to follow the amazing Radeon 5970.

    Come on Liz!
    Reply
  • dihartnell - Wednesday, October 08, 2014 - link

    I don't think #4 was bad. Read did exactly what was required of him. They are in better shape than they have been for a long time. Winning the consoles, apus, arm etc should see them profitable and diversified. I hope they can then execute some improvements on their gpu and cpus. They seem to be heading towards that with their recent hire s. A strong AMD is necessary for a competitive market to exist whether or not you like or use Amd or Intel. Reply
  • Kjella - Thursday, October 09, 2014 - link

    Reed has been pretty ok for AMD, but sucked for consumers because in their diversification they've abandoned just as many markets as they've gained, they've not expanded but gone sideways. AMD is (only slightly) smaller now than when Reed took over, but the CPU/GPU part of the business is a shadow of its former self. The console business has been good because there's been a new generation but that will decline and there's many years to the next new business. I'd also be greatly concerned that with their much lower and thinly spread R&D their base CPU/GPU technology is falling behind Intel/nVidia leading to their eventual demise, Still, they looked to be circling the drain a while and has got a breathing space so it might still be the best of several poor options. Reply
  • Frenetic Pony - Wednesday, October 08, 2014 - link

    What? Rory was fine, the massive losses from three years ago have narrowed to the point of expecting a profit next year, the graphics arm has come back in a big way, no losing to NVIDIA only in some areas of public perception, and the AMD is now a much more diversified business.

    That's a pretty solid success to mark down for a turnaround CEO, I'm sure for example that Sony would love to say it may well expect to operate at a profit next year. I'm surprised he's actually leaving, as turnaround CEOs in a competitive field from a big hole don't usually do much at all, that AMD appears to be almost saved is an unqualified success.
    Reply
  • TiGr1982 - Wednesday, October 08, 2014 - link

    Indeed; e.g. Bulldozer was not Read's fault since project Orochi was essentially done before he jumped in, and the rest of the AMD stuff was and is OK - Radeons are doing pretty well on average all of this time, so do all the APUs, if you consider them a kind of balanced budgetary offerings. So, IMHO, CEOs # 2 (Ruiz) and # 3 (Meyer) were questionable, not # 4 (Read). Reply
  • Homeles - Thursday, October 09, 2014 - link

    Meyer, while a great engineer, just didn't take the steps necessary to make AMD profitable. Diversifying was something that he should have done much more aggressively, especially since AMD actually had the capital at that point.

    Ruiz was an unethical fool. There's not much more to say about him.
    Reply
  • MrSpadge - Thursday, October 09, 2014 - link

    "the graphics arm has come back in a big way"

    As much as Bulldozer was not Rorys fault, this is not his achievement either. Tahiti was launched almost 3 years ago, so GCN was done when he took over. Frankly, seeing there has not been any tangible update to GCN with any significant real-world improvements in those 3 years I don't think it was his acomplishment to "bring back graphics in a big way". It rather looks like they're loosing it, focusing on obscure features like True Audio which may or may not one day yield nice results in some games.
    Reply
  • Mark_gb - Friday, October 10, 2014 - link

    Don't forget that in the past 3 years, AMD has been focused on integrating GCN into their APU's, Its only been in roughly the past year that we have seen APU's with GCN inside. And we have been seeing incremental improvements to GCN as well. The R9 285 is just the latest of those, There have been others as well. GCN today is a better GCN than what was out there 3 years ago. AMD is not calling these incremental improvements a specific number (but some of the media has been), but I believe that in the next 9 months, we will finally see GCN 2.0 and that it will be much more powerful than anything AMD has right now. Reply

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