AMD's Henri Richard Calls it Quits

"Henri has indeed resigned to pursue another opportunity. His new position will be outside the PC industry," said John Taylor, AMD's global product communications director. "It's completely amicable. Henri's service at AMD has been tremendous."

Richard, who has been a media favorite for his frequent, no-hold-barred rhetorical attacks against AMD's chief rival Intel, leaves after more than five years with the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based chipmaker. He joined AMD in 2002 as group vice president of worldwide sales, rising to the level of executive vice president in charge of all sales and marketing efforts.

"After 20 years in the PC industry -- and five of the most professionally rewarding years here at AMD -- I have decided to make a move to a different business segment. I am leaving AMD at a time when the company is in position to break the monopoly that plagues this industry. I am immensely proud of my contribution to AMD, and in particular, of the strong team I leave behind," Richard said in an AMD-released statement.

Richard brought two decades of experience in global technology marketing to AMD, including stints at Bell Microproducts, IBM and as a value-added reseller in his native France. He brought more than a little bit of Europe with him to Sunnyvale -- his office at AMD's home campus doubles as a shrine to Ferrari's Formula One racing team, which AMD supplies with in-race diagnostic technology and a team of engineers to run it. Richard himself owns several Ferraris.

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The Italian carmaker has a history of success on the F1 circuit, but like AMD, hasn't enjoyed as many first-place finishes of late. In what might have seemed an ironic twist to Richard, in his last two years as Ferrari's chief evangelist at AMD he watched French carmaker Renault crowned champions of Grand Prix.

No successor to Richard has been named, Taylor said. The AMD global sales and marketing organization will now report into the office of the CEO, according to the AMD statement.

Richard was known for taking swipes at Intel during AMD press conferences. At AMD's Technology Analyst Day in late July, he was in typical form, highlighting anti-trust actions AMD was pursuing against its rival in Europe and the United States as he repeated his regular refrain that Intel engages in unfair business practices.

"In any other industry, if what was happening in this industry was happening, it would be on the front page of every magazine in the world. Hopefully some day, our legal action and the government action will change all of this forever," he said.

The folks just over the city line at Intel's Santa Clara headquarters certainly noticed the verbal volleys, if they generally refrained from responding in kind.

"They did get very aggressive, very vocal, but in a free market you just sit back and watch, and make sure you're prepared if there are any false accusations. Sure we noticed, but it's nothing that we couldn't respond to," said one source at Intel.

A rough year for AMD that saw the chipmaker lose market share and its tech edge to Intel may have taken its toll on Richard. Intel began shipping its first quad-core chips in late 2006, but AMD's long-awaited quad-core product, Barcelona, won't be released until Sept. 10 -- some six months later than the industry expected. Richard seemed frustrated about the delay at July's Analyst Day.

"Right now, there's parts of the market where I can't compete," he said during the press conference, describing AMD's lack of a quad-core product until Barcelona starts shipping.

"Henri's primary goal at AMD has been to construct a world-class global sales and marketing organization focused on enduring relationships with major PC and server OEMs around the world. He delivered on that goal," said AMD Chairman and CEO Hector Ruiz in a statement.