AMD Hires Ex-Arrow Exec Mark Taylor As North America Channel Chief

Solution providers tells CRN that new AMD North America Channel Chief Mark Taylor, the former president of Arrow Electronics’ Enterprise Computing Solutions business, is a hands-on executive with a multitude of relationships in the channel who listens closely to the needs of partners and tries to find creative solutions to problems.


Mark Taylor

AMD has found its next North America channel chief in Mark Taylor, the former president of Arrow Electronics’ Enterprise Computing Solutions business who solution providers say will bring a hands-on, creative approach to the way the chip designer works with channel partners.

Taylor disclosed his appointment on LinkedIn Thursday, a couple weeks after the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company announced 26-year IBM veteran Phil Guido as its new worldwide sales leader.

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An AMD spokesperson confirmed Taylor’s hiring but had no further comment to offer by press time.

Taylor joined the 54-year-old chip designer—Intel’s rival in the x86 CPU space and a nascent contender to Nvidia’s GPU dominance—roughly three months after AMD suffered the departure of its first North America channel chief, Terry Richardson, who brought a wealth of channel relationships to the vendor and defined a new commercial partner program to build brand preference among solution providers.

Richardson’s departure came just before the late March resignation of Marty Bauerlein, a 25-year distribution veteran who Richardson brought in 18 months prior to lead North America VAR sales and commercial distribution for the chip designer.

Partners View Taylor’s Disty Background As Big Plus

Solution provider executives who spoke to CRN said Taylor, who worked at Arrow for a total of nearly 15 years before departing in June, is a hands-on executive with a multitude of relationships in the channel who listens closely to the needs of partners and tries to find creative solutions to problems.

“With [Taylor’s] background in distribution coming from Arrow, I think it’s a great fit to build off of what Terry had already started. In the brief time that I was introduced him, he seemed eager to learn from the partners what they thought of the program today,” said Paul Shaffer, executive vice president of business development and vendor programs at Woodinville, Wash.-based Redapt.

Shaffer, who serves on AMD’s North America Partner Advisory Board formed by Richardson, said he hopes Taylor will help further elevate the chip designer’s standing in the channel.

“With his background and the amount of time he’s had with the channel, I think he has a lot of relationships already that he can build off of and continue to build the AMD program,” he said.

Taylor’s existing network in the channel is also seen as a benefit to AMD by Megan Amdahl, senior vice president of client experience and North America COO for Chandler, Ariz.-based Insight Enterprises.

“I think it was really strategic for them to pick somebody from distribution to go into a channel a leadership role, because from a distribution perspective, they’re working with so many of the channel partners, and so he brings with him a wealth of relationships that I think is just really important from an AMD perspective,” said Amdhal, who also sits on AMD’s Partner Advisory Board.

Amdahl said AMD CEO Lisa Su and Jason Mooneyham, the chip designer’s head of Americas sales, have been “very focused on how they continue to evolve and perfect their channel programs,” so it’s fitting to bring in someone like Taylor who not only has strong partner relationships but who is also “very financially minded” and can “think of creative ways to evolve” those bonds.

“He was always very engaged during the [request for proposal] process [with customers] and was very much working with his team to make sure that they were clear on the value and the differentiation that they had with the technical skill sets of his teammates,” she said.

One solution provider CEO who has mainly worked with AMD through OEMs said he is more likely to work closer with the chip designer in the future because of the relationship he developed with Taylor when the AMD channel chief was at Arrow. This, he said, is indicative of how one-on-one relationships in the channel can lead to new alliances.

“I didn’t have a connection with Terry and [Hewlett Packard Enterprise]. But I do have a connection with Arrow and Mark,” said Jason Cherveny, founder and CEO of Denver-based Sanity Solutions.

Chip Partnerships Becoming More Important, Channel Exec Says

Cherveny said he views tighter bonds with semiconductor companies as increasingly relevant in the channel because some of his customers want to understand how a variety of changes in processors can impact workloads and overall data center operations.

“Big and little differences in the chipset might be more important than or equally as important as the operating system and the interface that the OEMs have put on it, so we have more conversations with customers where we’re bringing in the likes of Intel and AMD to talk to customers,” he said.

These conversations are important because choosing the right components can make a significant difference in how much money a customer spends, according to Cherveny.

“Maybe it’s not a true hard cost, but when one thing can run a lot faster with less power and less cooling needs when it’s a very large environment, it’s more important now than it really ever has been,” he said.

Partners Seek High And More Frequent Engagement From AMD

When it comes to what partners would like to see from AMD under Taylor’s channel leadership, Amdahl said the chip designer could benefit from meeting with partners on a more frequent and consistent basis, pointing to Dell Technologies as an exemplar.

“Best in class for me is Dell. They’re consistent every quarter,” she said.

Amdahl said AMD’s training and enablement programs should be more consistent in the messaging around the benefits of its processors, such as their sustainability advantages and how they can significantly decrease VMware licenses for customers.

“I think they could use some help from a marketing perspective in training and enablement to the channel to be able to tell their story a little bit better,” she said.

For Aaron Scriber, vice president of product management at Merrimack, N.H.-based Connection, the most important thing Taylor can do as AMD’s new North America channel chief is continue the strong engagement with partners that began under his predecessor.

“I think that level of high visibility, high engagement absolutely creates a much stronger partner environment,” he said.