AMD Executive Exodus Boots COO, Senior VP

When AMD announced roughly one month ago that it was firing Dirk Meyer as CEO, it touched off a controversial debate as to the reason for the CEO's dismissal. The fact that the dust from that decision has scarcely settled hasn't deterred AMD from wielding the axe again—this time it's chief operating officer Robert Rivet and senior VP for corporate strategy, Marty Seyer, whose heads are on the chopping block.

As with Meyer, AMD refused to provide additional information on why the new men are leaving the company, noting only that they intend "to pursue new opportunities." Unlike Meyer, who was forced out immediately, both Rivet and Seyer will stay on for a brief period to help smooth the transition to new leadership. The temporary absences will be filled by John Docherty, Devinder Kumar, and Harry Wolin, all of whom will absorb some of the responsibilities of the now-vacant offices without a change in title.

AMD took a moment to praise its departing employees, with company spokesperson Mike Silverman declaring that "They've both been with the company quite some time and have made significant contributions over the years." Absent, however, was any explanation for why AMD is canning the two or any update on how the company's search for a permanent CEO is proceeding. Seifert, pictured left, continues as interim CEO while the search continues.

The decision to jettison two more top-ranking executives won't do AMD's perception on Wall Street any favors; investors are typically leery of any company with a penchant for swapping top corporate employees. Between the two, Seyer's dismissal is easier to justify in terms of AMD's performance. Just under a year ago, on March 29, 2010, AMD simultaneously launched its new 8/12-core server CPUs and announced drastic price cuts to all current Opteron segments. It was a bold move for AMD to take but it ultimately failed to produce the growth Sunnyvale was looking for; company representatives we've spoken to have described 2010 as a 'difficult' year for Opteron.

With the dismissal of Rivet and Seyer, AMD is now helmed, almost without exception, by executives that joined the company in the last couple of years. Seifert (CEO/CFO) came aboard in 2009, while Akrout, Dessau (CMO) and Ghilardi (CSO) were all hired in 2008. Rick Bergman, the company's senior VP and general manager, came to AMD as part of the ATI merger in 2006, while only Allen Sockwell, AMD's Chief Talent Officer, stretches back to 2002.

This may be more than a coincidence. Meyer, Seyer, and Rivet were part of an earlier generation of AMD executives who were x86-centric and focused on competing with Intel. If the Board of Directors is set on seeing Sunnyvale move in a different direction, holdovers from the Jerry/Hector epoch might have become anachronistic in the eyes of the board.