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AMD's Latest Restructuring: Let the Race for CEO Begin?


So, AMD announced that they would be reshuffling the company’s corporate structure which includes some business unite consolidation and executive shuffling. First and foremost, they would be appointing Dr. Lisa Su as the COO from her current position as Senior Vice President and GM of Global Business Units. Anyone that knows how AMD works and what Dr. Lisa Su has been doing already knows that she’s effectively been the COO for quite some time and that the company had actually vacated that position a long time ago. Keep in mind that AMD’s current CEO, Rory Read, was once COO of Lenovo before he came from IBM (which is where Lisa Su spent most of her career before she worked at Freescale).

So, that point is merely nothing more than a technicality. Now, there have been a few organizational adjustments made within the company as they’ve consolidated the entire company into two divisions.

AMD will have a Computing and Graphics Business Group as well as an Enterprise, Embedded and Semi-Custom Business Group. This effectively separates the professional and consumer graphics divisions as well as the consumer processors from the server processors. AMD’s current CSO, John Byrne, will be made the Senior Vice President and GM responsible for leading the entire division and will report directly to Dr. Lisa Su.

Now, for the Enterprise, Embedded and Semi-Custom Business Group, the company will have Dr. Lisa Su herself as the acting lead of the division. This includes AMD’s server, embedded, dense server and semi-custom businesses (consoles), it also includes the related product engineering and sales functions necessary for these various businesses.

There have been rumors within AMD that the company would be grooming a new CEO to replace Rory Read, their caretaker CEO. Rory Read has done exactly what he was brought on to do, keep the company stable, and more importantly, alive. We’ve been hearing rumors that John Byrne may be one of the front runners for the CEO position, which makes sense with today’s announcement even though he was already CSO. And Lisa Su’s role within the company already groomed her for the position and her involvement in the company’s public events further makes this seem plausible.


Dr. Lisa Su (center) pictured along with John Byrne (left of her) and Colette LaForce (to her right) at last week’s Computex 2014

However, there is no denying that the constant presence of both John Byrne and Lisa Su at company announcements and launches is without a clear sign that the job for CEO is effectively between the two of them. This is why I believe AMD has decided to split the company up in two and has essentially given each of them a chance to show who of them is more capable of making AMD a successful company.

One weird thing that AMD did was mention the ages of everyone involved including Rory Read (52), Lisa Su (44) and John Byrne (43), which even further clarifies that this is more of a CEO race than anything. However, some investors and members of the board may be concerned that Lisa Su and John Byrne may be ‘too young’ to run the company even though they are clearly the two most qualified people to do so. It just adds another drop into the CEO race bucket.

I honestly didn’t see it coming down to this, as normally the CEO position is mostly politically battled from within the halls of the companies in question. If this is indeed the board of AMD’s way of giving each of them a chance to show their stuff, they may have just telegraphed it to the entire world and we will probably be able to pick the next CEO of AMD purely based upon the performance of these two divisions of AMD over the next year or two. Until then, we’ll just have to keep watching. These changes will be reflected starting July 1st.