AMD Layoffs Maul Marketing, PR Departments - HotHardware
AMD Layoffs Maul Marketing, PR Departments

AMD Layoffs Maul Marketing, PR Departments

AMD's initial layoff announcement yesterday implied that the dismissals would occur across the company's global sales force. While that may still be true, it has become clear that AMD has slashed its PR and marketing departments in particular. The New Product Review Program* (NPRP) has lost most of its staff and Director of Product Planning, Carell Killebrew, who played an integral role in rescuing AMD's GPU division after the disaster of R600, also got the axe. Key members of the FirePro product team are also gone. None of the staff had any idea that the cuts were coming, or that they'd focus so particularly in certain areas.

An email, purportedly from CEO Rory Read, sheds additional light on the reasons for the cuts.
This action was necessary to rebalance our skillsets, drive to a more competitive cost structure and enable us to fund our key growth areas... Our industry is at an inflection point as new trends emerge around the consumer experience, the breakdown of traditional control points and technology convergence.  It’s clear we have to take aggressive steps to create distinct value for our customers, and must optimize our existing business today while enabling the company to capture future growth.  If we do not take action now, we will miss these opportunities and be squeezed out.
 
To strengthen our market position, we have to rebalance our skillsets to better align with these market shifts and implement a more competitive cost structure.   Our competitors are serious and significant, and we will take the required actions to beat them... a lower cost base allows us to be more competitive today and to invest back into the business to fuel our “attack” strategies in— low power, emerging markets and the cloud.I will share more insights into our strategy and path forward in my upcoming Worldcast on November 9th
We agree that AMD's competitors are a serious threat, and that the company needs to take serious action, but we're deeply uncertain that slashing the marketing and PR teams is the best way to refocus the company. These two departments may not design products, but they create and maintain vital lines of communication between the company, its customers, and the press.



Severing those lines en masse creates inevitable traffic snarls while assignments are juggled internally, and it risks sending the message that AMD cut staff in certain areas because it doesn't think it'll need to talk about those products going forward.

It's all well and good to say AMD's future lies in emerging markets, low power, and the cloud, but the company's ability to sell current products into those spaces is extremely limited. With Windows 8 about a year away, ARM ramping into servers, and Intel's 22nm Atom coming soon, AMD needs to leverage its current expertise in its core markets to fund any attempt to shift focus. Read's email doesn't mention the need for excellent execution in desktop, mainstream mobile, or graphics. During the company conference call last week, he didn't even acknowledge the launch of Bulldozer, or the upcoming Interlagos parts.

It's all well and good to focus on the future—we just hope Read doesn't accidentally walk off a cliff.

* -- We at Hot Hardware would like to express our sympathy to those of you who've unexpectedly lost your jobs at a difficult time. AMD's marketing and PR teams have always been great to work with, even under difficult circumstances and trying conditions. We sincerely hope this continues to be the case.
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"Joel, I can tell by your response that you indeed had a very good relationship with AMD's PR and marketing team. I also feel that you don't think Mr Read will eventually be successful at positioning AMD into a true profitable and steady company. Its and unfortunate time for AMD and for the people that lost their jobs. I've been there and its not pretty. However, I can't truly judge Read's current decisions, after all, AMD track record speaks for itself."

News:
We agree that AMD's competitors are a serious threat, and that the company needs to take serious action, but we're deeply uncertain that slashing the marketing and PR teams is the best way to refocus the company. These two departments may not design products, but they create and maintain vital lines of communication between the company, its customers, and the press.

"What would you do different?

 

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News:
This action was necessary to *rebalance our skillsets*, drive to a %more competitive cost structure% and enable us to fund our key growth areas... 
To strengthen our market position, we have to *rebalance our skillsets* to better align with these market shifts and implement a %more competitive coststructure%.  

"Indeed it was written personally by Mr Read, and good PR and marketing team would not allow such an email get to the press. Repeating those words, don't inspire trust."  

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Assuming that he's repeating words doesn't mean that he's not inspiring trust. He stated the action and why he did the action; repeating them is irrelevent.

Also I am ready to join the uncertainty bandwagon; the marketing team and PR team I have to somewhat agree with due to the way they ineffectively market their products but the product manager for Radeon? He did a good job turning the brand around; the fact that "key people" are fired makes me even more uneasy but still...

I'm waiting for Roy Reed to announce what he's going to do and what type of products he's going to put out, he did 23 years of IBM for everyones sake; why wouldn't he know how to turn a company around?

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While I don't enjoy to hear of any one losing his job, I believe that, long term, the company is far better served by loss of marketing and PR types, rather than the truly important components - the engineering and other technical staff.

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Unfortunately, they have dumped some gifted technical talent as well.

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I hope things work out for AMD we need a competitive company to drive innovation.

Rory Read did a great job of marketing Lenovo in emerging markets.

Again people loosing their job is never a good thing but as a shareholder I wish them all the best.

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What would you do different?

OptimusPrimeTime,

There's no doubt that AMD's executives are in possession of information I'm not privy to, including full data on AMD's current product ramps, timelines for improving those products, and the costs associated with doing so. Because of this, I'll readily grant the possibility that these cuts are precisely the right move, for reasons I'm not aware of.

Here, however, is the big picture problem. AMD has just fired the men and women responsible for building relationships with both customers and the press across a huge range of products. There's more to effective product communication than simply sending out review samples, and it takes time to develop strong working relationships.

The cost cuts may have been necessary--but that doesn't mean it was a smart move to slash so many jobs in the same areas. Imagine, a purely hypothetical situation in which in the testing labs of a major OEM handling product development. As such, you maintain contact with representatives with Processor Company A and Processor Company B. You have a list of reps you've worked with for a number of years whenever you have questions regarding future products or need info on what's coming down the pipe so you can plan appropriately.

One day, without warning, 75% of the people on your contact sheet for Company A no longer have jobs. The primary reps are gone. The secondary reps are gone. The handful of managers left have no idea what's going to happen and no one knows who's supposed to actually be handling product data anymore. Instead of dealing with representatives you knew, you're stuck trying to forge new working relationships at a time when the entire support team for products you've invested millions in working with are *gone.*

AMD just got rid of most of the people who handled product communication. what would I do differently? I'm not sure. What I *do* know is that this move is guaranteed to create uncertainty and apprehension at a time when AMD needs to clarify and communicate its strategy. Thus far, Read is long on sizzle, short on substance. I'm not saying that a dramatic move towards mobile tech is a bad move for AMD, and I accept that it may have required painful cuts. Despite this, I maintain that the company's layoffs will almost certainly create more than short-term communication problems.

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/agree with Joel.

I'm afraid they made a decision based on the short-term benefit. If not, this is an indication that there's a big problem with their roadmap for the next couple of years. And that sucks for us, because we need AMD's competition to keep Intel hungry and innovating.

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Same here. 

I can understand the need to trim down a little if the company seems to be getting rather large and unwieldy, but the problem I find with large scale slashes and cuts is that some (if not many) very good people get laid off too. People that could be useful in the turnaround. I'm still shocked that they let some key GPU engineers go(such as the people in this story http://www.anandtech.com/show/2937 for example).

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Pat Moorhead spent the past year Tweeting about Android, not APU's. They have spent millions placing full-page ads in newspapers and haven't had a Channel Conference Tour in two years. Their presence at CES the past two years has been puzzling, but Pat Moorhead got himself named to the Board of the CE Association.

The @AMD_Unprocessed Twitter account began by Following all my Followers, but they never established a voice with any authority on Twitter.

Their Facebook Fan page has a big enthusiast engagement, so why did they link to several Mommy bloggers? WTF

Maybe we should #OccupyAMD http://www.facebook.com/AMD/posts/10150395739876473

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Interesting commentary and observations but I will say this; Mommy Bloggers have represented a strong influential audience for Intel as well. The theory is they're a booming demographic on the web (they definitely are) and they are key influencers in the market (agreed here also) BUT after the first round of thin and light notebooks are all sold into this demographic, who is the REAL core audience that will always be there and not waiver with each passing fad or product swing? Answer: The Tech Enthusiast

I think Intel and AMD both need to remember to always speak to their CORE audience first and of course spread out into break-out demographics as well.

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Dave_HH:
Interesting commentary and observations but I will say this; Mommy Bloggers have represented a strong influential audience for Intel as well. The theory is they're a booming demographic on the web (they definitely are) and they are key influencers in the market (agreed here also) BUT after the first round of thin and light notebooks are all sold into this demographic, who is the REAL core audience that will always be there and not waiver with each passing fad or product swing? Answer: The Tech Enthusiast

I think Intel and AMD both need to remember to always speak to their CORE audience first and of course spread out into break-out demographics as well.

yep this has been a very interesting discussion, and I was glad to hear back from a PR guy at AMD today that I have been in some contact with since he was responsible for sending me this very nice Sapphire HD 6850 card about a week ago.
http://hothardware.com/cs/forums/p/57764/413236.aspx#413236

Really nice to hear back from Jon earlier this afternoon &  that he is still at AMD .>>> Def with you Dave regarding the mommy blooger vs. the Tech enthusiast It is simply  folks like us in these forums that make up the CORE audience ...and some of the messages sent recently are a very good indication of why I am glad that Jon is still at AMD.

 

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Wow - feel bad for all those people layed off for this.

As Joel mentions, those are key staff responsible for managing the communications between the executives, company, staff, vendors and customers. Scary stuff when this happens!

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May be it was time to start over with the marketing team.

I rarely here ANYTHING at all about AMD unless it's on a tech site.

When was the last time they put together a real TV add campaign? They should have been advertising their APU's in mainstream media like crazy, but no, nothing but crickets chirping in the night. Brazos and LLano are hits for them and no one but us know it. WTF?

Intel and Apple are constantly in front of us crowing up a storm. Let's face it, if no one knows about you and you don't put yourself out there to be noticed, no one will buy your products.

Sorry, but this is a subject that really pisses me off. I'm a true fan of AMD, and just wish they would more visibly promote themselves. I realize AMD does not have the budget of Intel or Apple for advertising, but at least they could bring the ratio down to 1 AMD ad to 5 or 6 for Intel/Apple. Lets see a sexy commercial for the HP DM1z and Lenovo X120E ( yes I did see the X120E on you tube, but has it aired on TV? in Prime time?). Where Are the LLano laptop ads? And where are AMD's partners in all of this.

As I said, this is a sore point for me, thanks for letting me rant.

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When was the last time they put together a real TV add campaign? They should have been advertising their APU's in mainstream media like crazy, but no, nothing but crickets chirping in the night. Brazos and LLano are hits for them and no one but us know it. WTF?... I realize AMD does not have the budget of Intel or Apple for advertising, but at least they could bring the ratio down to 1 AMD ad to 5 or 6 for Intel/Apple

No, they couldn't. Not even close. Given AMD's huge increase in mobile revenues in the past 9 months, I'd say the word is getting out just fine.

In any event, AMD didn't just fire a bunch of marketing people to pay for TV ads. That would be one of the few developments that could make this situation look even worse.

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Craziness... it seems like most companies goes through periods where they lay off large amounts of staff. It is just a shame that they had to layoff so much of their voice to the community.

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