Gateway CEO Inouye Steps Down

Gateway’s CEO Wayne Inouye has stepped down, effective immediately, in favor of Gateway board chairman and director Rick Snyder, while the company initiates a search for a new CEO. The move comes as Gateway posted its first GAAP profit since 200 and increased its year-to-year operating income by $643 million in 2005.

Inouye took over the company following Gateway’s March 2004 purchase of eMachines, and is credited with helping rebuild and stabilize the company as it faced increased competition from direct marketer Dell and giant computer maker Hewlett-Packard looking to revitalize itself in consumer and business markets. He leaves the company to “pursue other interests,” which is classic corporate-speak for “golf and maybe pondering a memoir,” but in this case, Inouye will be staying on in an advisory capacity during the CEO search.

Interim CEO Snyder is no stranger to Gateway, having been a director of Gateway since joining the company in 1991, launching the company’s IPO in 1993, and serving as COO for a year and a half during 1996 and 1997. Snyder indicated he doesn’t envision any radical changes to Gateway’s operations in the near term: “Having just approved the 2006 annual operating plan, I and the other Directors believe the company is essentially on the right course for long-term growth, and that our employees and senior management team have a sense of urgency about improving the company’s financial results. However, we will take this opportunity to re-examine the strategic direction of Gateway to fine-tune our products, services and approach to our Professional and Consumer Direct markets.”

While a CEO search is underway, Snyder will remain board chairman but will step down as chairman of Gateway’s corporate governance and nominating committee, and as a member of the audit committee.