What does AMD's decision to promote Dirk Meyer to president and chief operating officer mean? (Here's the full AMD press release.)
Meyer moves up to the broader corporate position from his slot as president and chief operating officer of AMD's microprocessor group. In his new role, according to AMD, Meyer will share the leadership and management of AMD with Hector Ruiz, who relinquishes his "president" title but remains CEO and chairman of the scrappy semiconductor vendor.
Meyer joined AMD in 1995. Before that, he work at the Digital Equipment Corp where he was co-architect of the Alpha microprocessor. Ruiz came on board as CEO of AMD in January, 2000. Ruiz had previously been president of Motorola's semiconductor business.
It's too early to check with the leading chip analysts to get their take. So I'll give you my take on this executive pas de deux.
Ruiz has done a great job as chairman of AMD. (Indeed, he's been far more successful at AMD than he was as head of Motorola's semiconductor business, where he had a mixed record.) So Meyer's promotion shouldn't be taken as any sign of weakness on the part of Ruiz.
At the same time, Meyer (along with just-departed AMD chief technology officer and AMD64 architect Fred Weber) successfully championed AMD's highly successful dual-core processors. (Phil Hester moved into the CTO position Weber just vacated.)Clearly the company doesn't want to lose Meyer, and this promotion is the logical next step in his career.
The upshot is, the move positions Meyer, 44, as the putative successor to Ruiz, who recently turned 60. (It's analogous to what Intel did in 2002, when it similarly named Paul Otellini president and COO of Intel, positioning him as the successor to Craig Barrett, a job he assumed on May 18, 2005.) Like Intel, AMD is getting its ducks lined up in a row, planning for a smooth transition. Not only is it a smart move, but it's the only move AMD could be expected to make.