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AMD sees senior executive exodus as trio of higher-ups pursue ‘other opportunities’

Having been subjected to a CEO switch just a few months back, California-based semiconductor giant AMD was expected to enjoy a period of relative stability and tranquility. But alas, three key positions in the company’s chain of command are open again, following John Byrne, Colette LaForce and Rajan Naik’s departures.

Very little is known about the reason for the resignations, but at least as far as Byrne is concerned, speculation is rampant regarding his unhappiness at Lisa Su’s recent promotion. An industry veteran with over two decades of experience in managerial seats at a number of leading tech innovators, he joined AMD in early 2007 as VP of Worldwide Graphics and Chipset Sales.

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It only took him two years to move up the ranks to Corporate VP of SMB Sales, and another two years to reach a new career peak, securing the General Manager post of the Americas Mega Region. Then, he became GM of Global Accounts, the chip titan’s Chief Sales Officer, and finally, the General Manager of the Computing and Graphics Business Group.

In other words, he administered AMD’s PC processor department, answering only to former CEO Rory Read. It almost goes without saying he was among the frontrunners to carry Read’s torch, which is why it shouldn’t be all that surprising if he feels he can’t work under Lisa Su, the new head honcho and ex-COO.

Again, this is merely speculation, and AMD is unlikely to ever confirm it, simply stating Mr. Byrne will be leaving the outfit on March 31 to “pursue other opportunities.” The same goes for Chief Marketing Officer Colette LaForce, an AMD employee since May 2012, when she left Dell, and Chief Strategy Officer Rajan Naik, who AMD recruited three years ago after stints at arch-nemesis Intel and management consulting firm McKinsey & Company.

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Interestingly enough, AMD confirmed John Byrne’s successor will be chosen from the outside, with President and Chief Executive Officer Dr. Lisa T. Su appointed as the interim General Manager of the Computing and Graphics Business Group.

The changes are apparently “part of implementing an optimal organization design and leadership team to further sharpen our execution and position AMD for growth.” Translation – become a no-nonsense rival for market-leading Intel. Or at least cut the company’s losses in the CPU segment, while staying relevant in the GPU world.