AMD chooses Lenovo’s No. 2 exec as new CEO

Advanced Micro Devices announced that Rory Read, former No. 2 executive at Lenovo, will become AMD’s new CEO.

Read will replace acting CEO Thomas Seifert, who moves back to chief financial officer at AMD. While executive chairman Bruce Claflin will return to his role as chairman. Read will have a tough job as the point man for AMD’s perennial struggle against Intel, which usually has about four times as much market share in the PC microprocessor market.

Read starts immediately and comes with more than 28 years of experience in the tech industry. As president and chief operating officer of Lenovo, Read helped transform the company by taking it into new product segments and growing both its market share and profitability.

Prior to becoming COO and president, Read was head of the Americas group at Lenovo. At Lenovo Americas group, Read helped drive double-digit revenue growth and market share gains. Prior to that, he spent 23 years in management positions at IBM, which spun out its PC division to establish Lenovo as a separate company.

In a conference call, Read said he was excited about the opportunity and AMD’s solid track record for execution, particularly related to AMD’s Fusion chips, which combine graphics and microprocessors on the same chip.

“We are just scratching the surface for what we can do,” Read said, noting that AMD has sold more than 12 million Fusion chips in the past six months.

Read said he believes the PC market is poised for growth, despite challenges from the tablet and smartphone markets. He said he liked how AMD had a tradition of being an innovator that looks for the chance to create the “next big thing.” He said there is a drive for increased chip capacity and performance but at lower power levels. He said it was early to talk about a tablet strategy, but Thomas Seifert, chief financial officer, said on the conference call that the company is targeting products for tablets around the time of the introduction of Windows 8, which is expected to hit the market in 2012.

Claflin said on the conference call that AMD sought a new CEO because it felt it could take advantage of new opportunities in the PC market faster than it otherwise was doing.

“It’s a very interesting time in the industry,” given operating system trends and the upcoming Windows 8 software from Microsoft, he said.

AMD said it chose Read “not only for his experience and accomplishments, but also for his passion, the depth and clarity of his strategic vision, and his keen ability to bring that vision to reality.” Read fills the job that had been open since the departure of Dirk Meyer, who resigned as AMD’s CEO in January.