New AMD Channel Chief Richardson Set To Build ‘Ultimate Channel’ Strategy

In his first interview as AMD’s North America channel chief, HPE veteran Terry Richardson talks about his plans to build out the company’s commercial channel team and convince partners to increasingly use its processors over Intel’s and Nvidia’s products.

Richardson Wants to Help Partners Build Sustainable Companies, Innovative Solutions

New AMD North American Channel Chief Terry Richardson vowed to expand relationships with channel partners and convince them to increasingly use the company’s processors over rival products in his first interview since being hired by the chipmaker.

Richardson joined the Santa Clara, Calif.-based chipmaker March 1 after retiring in January from Hewlett Packard Enterprise, where he worked for 11 years and served as the head of the company’s channels and alliances. In his new role as North America channel chief, Richardson will oversee commercial sales of CPUs and GPUs through server and PC OEMs as well as distributors.

[Related: Lisa Su’s Channel Awakening: Why Partners Could Be AMD’s ‘Largest Growth Opportunity’]

Partners told CRN that AMD’s decision to hire Richardson to lead commercial channel sales in North America gives the chipmaker instant credibility and will help it continue to gain market share against Intel, which has a substantial lead over AMD in both market share and long-standing channel relationships. It is also taking on lead GPU maker Nvidia with its own slate of client and data center GPU products.

In an exclusive interview with CRN, Richardson said it’s important to him that relationships with partners are “win-win,” whether they are with solution providers, distributors or systems integrators. In the past few years, AMD has been expanding beyond its traditional component channel for retailers and system builders with a new focus on solutions providers that resell PCs and servers from OEMs.

“I think it’s really important to listen to the partners describe their needs and interests, where they’re trying to take their businesses and look for the ways and intersection points where AMD can allow partners to achieve some of their goals, many of which are related to not only building great sustainable companies but really delivering innovative solutions to customers,” he said.

What follows is an edited transcript of CRN’s interview with Richardson, who talked about why he joined AMD and how his experience at HPE will inform AMD’s channel strategy, among other things.

Why did you decide to join AMD?

When I retired from HPE at the end of January, I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do next, but when I was approached by AMD, I really was struck by a couple of things. One was their commitment to the channel from [CEO] Lisa Su on down, a strong executive commitment. And it presented an opportunity to really define the ultimate channel go-to-market strategy and to come in and really have a big impact on leveraging channel partnerships to really drive and accelerate the company’s growth, [for] current and future products. And I thought that the AMD offerings were really compelling and well-positioned today to really address some of our customers’ most demanding and critical workloads. So a combination of those three things, it felt like a unique opportunity.

And for me, personally, it was a new challenge and opportunity to build and grow a new business inside of a large, successful company. And I really thought it would allow me to leverage a lot of my prior experiences in my career as well as strong partner relationships that I have built over the years.

What do you think about AMD’s strength and position in the semiconductor market?

Clearly, the company has made the right investments and has brought to market very compelling offerings. And from what I’ve learned and what I know, their continued investment and leadership should be sustainable over the years ahead. So I really think that company has done a nice job. There’s a large pending acquisition [of Xilinx]— we’ll see how that plays out during the course of 2021, but the organic and inorganic investments look to be well-timed to the market needs.

How will your experience at HPE bring AMD’s channel to the next level?

The role that I had at HPE was running channels and alliances in North America. There are very direct corollaries to the types of partners [AMD works with], whether it’s a common set of distributors or the enterprise-focused solution providers, many of [whom are] the same partners that I had the privilege to lead during my HPE time.

Further back, from my time at EMC and working at a technology startup called Sepaton, there were some additional relationships that I was able to form and develop that are also relevant to what I‘m going to try to do with my team at AMD across North America.

How would you describe your approach to working with partners?

I think it’s really important to listen to the partners describe their needs and interests, where they’re trying to take their businesses and look for the ways and intersection points where AMD can allow partners to achieve some of their goals, many of which are related to not only building great sustainable companies but really delivering innovative solutions to customers.

A big part of what I‘ll do in addition to learning about [this] company and the great people and offerings is to listen carefully to the partners themselves and then build a plan that addresses their needs and continue to focus on what I believe in, which are win-win partnerships.

And in this case, it won‘t just be a singular effort, AMD with the partner. Oftentimes it will include some of the world’s largest OEMs partners, like Dell and HPE and Cisco and others. So it’s really going to be exciting to work across a large strategic ecosystem.

What are you hoping to achieve in your first year?

What I’d like to achieve is to build a really strong, focused channel team within AMD. Obviously, I expect to deliver on the financial targets that have been set for me within North America.

I also hope to really increase the awareness and preference that partners have for AMD-based technology solutions and ultimately build a foundation that we can continue to leverage to grow at an accelerated rate in the years ahead.

AMD executives told CRN late last year that the company is doubling down on channel investments, with increased market development funds, increased channel staff and increased funded positions for top solution providers like Insight. Was AMD hiring you part of this increased channel push?

I want to make sure I say this humbly: In furthering the commitment that you referenced in the December [CRN] article with Lisa Su and the other executives, it was positioned to me that AMD in North America wanted to make a significant hire, somebody that was well-known across the partner community, because it was the single-most important thing in terms of the priority of things to get done in North America: to build out the channel.

And much like AMD has done in other roles, it’s a nice balance of longtime AMD experienced personnel with bringing in different perspectives and different skills from other companies. I think there was a very targeted effort to look both internally and externally at who is the right person to bring into a role that was deemed to be very strategic and [serve] as further evidence of the company’s commitment to the channel and building it out and trying to grow it the right way.

What message should the broader channel take away from AMD hiring you to lead North American commercial and component channel efforts?

It’s really an honor to be selected and appointed for this role. The partners should expect that I, along with my team, will be very visible and open in our communications about the plans that we put in place to expand our relationships and raise the awareness across the channel community to AMD offerings. And we’ll do that in conjunction with our OEM partners, as appropriate. So expect a lot more coming from me and my team in the weeks and months ahead.