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AMD hopes to replicate Lenovo's rise to power with CEO

Analysis Looks east for inspiration
Fri Aug 26 2011, 16:53

CHIP DESIGNER AMD has made a prudent choice in whisking Rory Read away from Lenovo to take the helm at one of the most high profile component companies in the business.

AMD's hunt for a new CEO was becoming a bad joke. Whenever hacks would meet with AMD executives the first question would be who has most recently turned down the CEO job, hardly something to instill confidence in a firm that is still Intel's biggest competitor in the x86 chip market and dukes it out with both Nvidia and Intel in the graphics market.

AMD suffered the embarrassment of having the names of some of the candidates it had approached made public. The report included industry veterans such as Pat Gelsinger, who for the majority of his career was one of Intel's most public senior figures. Gelsinger's public rejection of the job was a hammer blow to the desirability of the CEO position at AMD. Talk at the time wondered who would want to take up a position that has been rejected by so many others.

Finally AMD managed to find someone and that someone certainly has the credentials to command respect. Read's tenure at Lenovo as COO was during a time when the Chinese company broke out of the shadow of IBM.

After IBM sold its PC business to Lenovo it seemed that the Chinese system builder was doing little to move beyond what it had acquired from IBM, bringing out more good but hardly innovative Thinkpads. Since 2008 the firm has brought in lower priced models, tried its hand at innovative tablet designs and still managed to keep the legendary IBM quality going. All of this resulted in Lenovo shooting up the market share charts.

Read's history runs longer than just Lenovo. He spent the majority of his career at IBM and that sort of pedigree helps when you are trying to woo investors. Investors aside, Read has to sort out AMD's recently lacklustre execution strategy. A case in point is Bulldozer - where is it?


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