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Terry Richardson Hire Gives AMD ‘Huge Channel Credibility:’ Partners

Solution providers say the expertise Terry Richardson developed at HPE and EMC gives AMD a top channel leader to battle the ‘800-pound Intel gorilla’ and drive more market-share gains against the chipmaker’s top rival. ‘He has access to all the top players in the channel. This is a big move for AMD,’ one said.

AMD’s decision to hire channel superstar Terry Richardson as its North America channel chief gives the up-and-coming chipmaker instant credibility as it mounts a more aggressive channel charge against Intel, partners said.

Richardson, a 30-year plus sales veteran, has been hailed by partners as one of the top channel chiefs in the business, making his mark as a seasoned channel leader at EMC and then Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

[RELATED: New AMD Channel Chief Richardson Set To Build ‘Ultimate Channel’ Strategy]

Partners said they are looking forward to Richardson—who was the biggest vote-getter as the most popular channel chief in CRN’s 2017 Channel Madness competition—building out a full-fledged AMD channel program. In the past few years, the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company has been expanding beyond its traditional component channel for retailers and system builders with a new focus on solution providers that resell PCs and servers from OEMs.

Rob Schaeffer, president of Orange, Calif.-based CBT, an HPE Platinum partner, said Richardson’s appointment gives AMD “huge channel credibility.”

“This is a big deal for AMD,” said Schaeffer. “Terry is a consummate professional and is so well known because of who he is and how he goes about the craft. Terry has a ton to give. AMD is lucky to have somebody like Terry leading their channel strategy and channel team.”

Richardson’s channel expertise gives AMD a top channel leader to battle the “800-pound Intel gorilla” that has been recently re-energized by the appointment of new channel-savvy CEO Pat Gelsinger, said Schaeffer.

“AMD is in a really good place right now with the technology and the timing of what is happening in the industry and the growth of compute,” said Schaeffer. “Everything is now driven by the CPU these days. To have someone of Terry’s caliber at this time gives AMD huge channel credibility and a seat at the table with partners where they might have struggled in the past. It is going to give them a bigger, more relevant conversation with the channel in a strategic technology discussion.”

Schaeffer said AMD has been a critical component of CBT’s operational technology and IoT practice, and Richardson’s appointment will drive even more strategic alignment. “AMD is a leader in that high-performance compute market,” he said, adding that its processors can help reduce software licensing fees. “AMD, with its high-performance compute, is a really important part of our industrial IoT business,” he added. “Terry is going to open the door to have deeper and more frequent conversations with AMD.”

Paul O’Dell, a director at Clinton, N.J.-based CPP Associates, HPE’s U.S. Solution Provider of the Year, predicted that Richardson’s appointment will drive huge channel gains for AMD.

“Terry knows thousands of solution providers and knows how to build a channel program—think about how many additional sellers this is going to bring them,” he said. “Up until now they have had no channel program. AMD goes from very little channel mindshare to very big channel mindshare overnight.”

The hiring of Richardson couldn’t come at a more opportune time for AMD, said O’Dell.

“AMD right now has an unquestionable advantage from a technology perspective with the EPYC processor,” he said. “My technical team can’t stop raving about it. We’re starting to lead with it everywhere we can. They have the right product at the right time at the right price with the best [total cost of ownership] and [return on investment].”

“They just need to get the message out,” O’Dell added. “That is what a channel does for a company. With Terry at the helm of the channel, it is all about coming up with the right program to incent the channel. The stars have aligned. This is a great move for AMD and Terry.”

Richardson’s channel commitment is unparalleled, said O’Dell. “Terry was 24/7, anytime we needed him. He was always there for us,” he said. “It is immeasurable how important he was to CPP.”

Key for AMD’s channel success is building a channel program that focuses on high-performance compute workloads like the ones CPP focuses on with its data analytics practice, said O’Dell. “Those are workloads that AMD is uniquely positioned for,” he said. “That is business value.”

Scott Dunsire, the CEO of ACP CreativIT, No. 117 on CRN’s 2020 Solution Provider 500, called Richardson’s appointment a “big win” for AMD. “Terry’s relationships in the channel are second to none from the VAR community to the national solution providers,” he said. “Terry is a well-known executive who is trusted by partners. This gets AMD a seat at the channel table. He will get AMD into the door of many more partners than they had in the past.”

Dunsire said the move brings AMD instant channel credibility and opens the door for ACPCreativIT to represent AMD. “We know we have a partner in Terry so if there is an opportunity to talk to our customers about AMD technology where it makes sense, we will now present those solutions to our customers,” he said. “Previously, there was never any conversations to be had with AMD. There is no loyalty to AMD in the channel because they have been nonexistent.”

Intel has “set the standard” for chipmakers, but the lack of availability on certain chipsets has “at least opened the door” for AMD, said Dunsire. “Having a relationship with Terry gives us an opportunity to go into our customers with a different solution,” he said. “Knowing Terry is there to back us up gives us confidence that they might be able to move the channel needle. Terry is a seasoned channel executive with a lot of experience and a lot of connections. We don’t know anybody at AMD right now.”

Paul Cohen, vice president of sales for New York-based PKA Technologies, No. 429 on the CRN 2020 Solution Provider 500, said Richardson’s appointment signals a newfound respect for the channel from AMD.

“Terry has got the most channel credibility of anyone out there among channel partners,” said Cohen. “He has a unique blend of enterprise sales experience as well as channel management experience. This is a big deal for AMD. Terry is very influential in the channel community. By hiring Terry, AMD is clearly sending a message of respect to the channel.”

Cohen said the fact is up until now AMD has simply not been a factor in the channel. “They are not very channel-friendly at the moment,” he said. “Terry needs to build a team of partner business managers to evangelize AMD in the channel community. I am sure Terry is tasked with building a national channel program. If anybody can make AMD a channel force to be reckoned with, it is Terry.”

Cohen said he is anxious to meet with Richardson to talk about potential partnership opportunities with PKA. “Terry is a true advocate for the channel partners, meaning he realizes that what is good for the partner is good for the OEM, so he will work very hard to ensure your success,” said Cohen.

Rich Baldwin, chief strategy officer and chief information officer for San Diego-based Nth Generation, No. 297 on the CRN 2020Solution Provider 500, said he expects Richardson to drive share gains at AMD.

“Terry is through and through a channel guy and is now in the right role again,” said Baldwin. “Terry gets the channel and is at the top of the heap in terms of channel talent. He is going to really be able to help them increase their market share. He has access to all the top players in the channel. This is a big move for AMD.”

Baldwin said he is confident Richardson will come up with robust incentives and investments to drive AMD channel leadership. “Terry is going to come up with creative ways for AMD to get their products moving with more channel partners, whether it is with marketing events or other things,” he said. “If he comes up with a channel plan, partners are going to invest heavily in it. We certainly will here at Nth Generation.”

At HPE, Richardson was critical in bringing partners the right incentives, support and sales assistance to drive sales growth, said Baldwin. “Terry got us sales help at the highest levels,” he said. “He knows how to make connections and help us win the big deals. He would do whatever it takes to get the right resource out to the field to talk to the customer. He knows what it’s like to be on our side of the fence.”

Baldwin said the hire comes at a pivotal time with AMD driving technology leadership in the intensely competitive chip market. “AMD has more advanced technology than Intel right now, they have a higher core count,” he said. “If you are doing artificial intelligence and breakthrough applications, AMD is someone to be reckoned with. AMD has been stepping up lately, but they have got to get out in front of more customers. That means you have to spend more money on marketing to get the channel partners to represent AMD products at a higher level.”

Baldwin said he can’t wait to speak to Richardson personally about how to drive sales growth working hand in hand with Nth Generation. “With the right programs and right incentives, we could be leading more with AMD.”

John Iacone, the founder and CEO of Plainview, N.Y.-based International Integrated Solutions, No. 131 on the CRN 2020 Solution Provider 500, said AMD is “lucky” to get someone with Richardson’s stature to head up its North American channel.

“Terry was a great channel chief at HPE and really has the trust and respect of a large number of resellers,” he said. “I am sure he will have a major impact running their channel.”

Additional reporting by Dylan Martin.

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