It appears that select individuals at certain news agencies were briefed that Phil Hester, AMD’s CTO and mastermind of its present technology strategy, has resigned
to pursue other opportunities.
Whilst today's news coincides with his last day of work, those closest to Hester within AMD have been aware of his intentions for the last week or so.
AMD’s product execution over the past 18 months has left a bit to be desired, of which its key launch – the Barcelona core Opteron server and workstation processor – is, we think, the most conspicuous example.
Despite this, Hester had recently convincingly filled many AMD doubters with hope, when he revealed his vision for the APU and there was every reason to believe that AMD was capable of turning the corner this year with some exciting product launches expected.
Hester, however, was hired by AMD in September 2005, with his strong enterprise background appearing to coincide with a strategic shift in that direction.
The previous most significant non-ATI departure was Henri Richard, taken on as head of sales and marketing in 2003.
It’s not yet clear what the full reasons are behind Hester’s decsion to depart or what this means for AMD, and on the face of it it’s difficult to view this as much more than bad news.
Having said that, Hester appears to have been the architect of a strong infrastructure of business-unit CTOs, who are now left in his wake.
This could well have just been best practice, but if he was planning for his future departure he seems to have done a good job.
These are the execs in question: -
Mark Bapst - Handheld CTO
Mike Goddard - Client CTO
Samir Hulyalkar - Digital Television CTO
Raja Koduri - Graphics CTO
Rich Oehler - Server CTO
Mike Uhler, VP, Accelerated Computing (who apparently reports directy into the office of the CTO)
Upon hearing the news, our initial assumption was that Hester's departure was driven by the need to appease shareholders that might be baying for a senior sacrifice, but sources very close to him insist that this wasn't the case.
However, we remain unconvinced that this will be the last departure of a very senior executive from AMD in the very near future.... so much so that we think it'll be worth keeping an eye out for further developments next week.
If there is a positive for AMD from this development it is that sometimes, just as in politics, a major changing of the guard is needed and can be the beginning of a turn-around.
Regarding Hester himself, it appears that the view from within AMD is that he is a highly respected hard worker who, for those who worked with him first-hand, he will be sorely missed. He had garnered a reputation as a fighter and we wouldn't be surprised to see him reappear at a technology start-up, after a well-earned bit of time off; which we understand is his current plan.
HEXUS will be providing further news and analysis of this and related developments in due course.