See, this is why you need a CEO succession plan

AMD chief executive Dirk Meyer resigns; chip maker begins search for replacement

Earlier on Monday I wrote about Apple advising shareholders to reject a proposal to begin the process of finding and/or grooming a replacement for chief executive Steve Jobs. After all, it only makes sense to be prepared. Now we'll find out how much sense Advanced Micro Devices' board of directors has. On Monday AMD announced in a blog post that CEO Dirk Meyer has resigned as president, chief executive and director. (A blog post? Why didn't they just tweet it?) (Also see: Meyer resigns as AMD's CEO)

The post said Meyer's resignation was made "in mutual agreement with the board of directors," which usually is thinly veiled code for "we threw him out on his butt." Obviously it's hard to tell from the outside how long this has been brewing, but indications from the blog post make me think the decision, at least, was rather abrupt. For starters, the man chosen as "interim CEO," chief financial officer Thomas Seifert, "has asked not to be considered for the permanent CEO position." Was this dropped on him out of the blue? Secondly, AMD only now (at least that's how it sounds) has formed a CEO search committee to find a successor to Meyer. That could take months, which you'd think might jeopardize the "considerable product and financial momentum" Seifert claims the chip maker has going into 2011. AMD's new chairman, Bruce Claflin, said, "The Board believes we have the opportunity to create increased shareholder value over time. This will require the company to have significant growth, establish market leadership and generate superior financial returns. We believe a change in leadership at this time will accelerate the company’s ability to accomplish these objectives.” Clearly the board didn't think Meyer was the guy to pull that off. But is this a sudden realization or something the directors felt for some time? Either way, it sure sounds like they're just beginning the process of finding a successor. Not good.

Chris Nerney writes about the business side of technology market strategies and trends, legal issues, leadership changes, mergers, venture capital, IPOs and technology stocks. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisNerney.

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