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John Byrne to be appointed Chief Sales Officer for AMD

So finally, after more than half a year’s deliberation, AMD has decided to fill the Chief Sales Officer role at AMD with the appointment of Senior Vice President John Byrne. KitGuru has been looking carefully at this situation for many months and is cautiously optimistic for AMD’s future financials.

When AMD CEO Rory Read appointed Byrne to the role of Senior Vice President and General Manager for Global Accounts on 16th February 2012, he was effectively making Byrne the hub for critical communications between AMD, its customers and partners. Read was betting on Byrne’s ability to improve AMD’s communication across the board and – based on today’s decision – it seems that the AMD hierarchy have been very impressed by what they’ve seen.

Read said back in February, “John has consistently demonstrated an ability to help customers win in the marketplace and understands that when our customers win, AMD wins”. In today’s tough climate, AMD certain needs its customers to win.

After Computex, KitGuru was concerned that not having a Chief Sales Officer for half a year would prevent AMD from cooking on gas. Having considered the likely candidates inside AMD, we ran an in-depth analysis of why we thought Byrne was the right choice on 10th July – specifically focusing on the broad range of companies and roles that he’s succeeded in prior to being appointed Chief Sales Officer.

One of our most serious concerns was that AMD appears to have had several different people guiding the course of its sales strategy in recent years. AMD’s jump in annual sales from around $4Bn to around $6Bn, shows that some of the changes implemented did have an affect. But with industry experts like IDC predicting significant overall industry growth through 2013/14, AMD needs to find a positive strategy that will guide it over the next 5 years if it is to maximise on the market’s potential.

John Byrne has been the obvious candidate to take over AMD sales for quite some time

On 20th July, we went into AMD’s results with a fine tooth comb, and ending with the stark contrast that while Intel is complaining that its market only grow 3% this year, AMD was looking at a revenue drop from $1.57Bn to $1.41Bn.

At the point where Byrne is taking over, AMD is suffering from roadmap delays, under-performing share price, producing processor products with features that might not be used by many consumers, a competitor in Intel that’s executing like a revolutionary Guillotine, a lack of wins in the mobile space and a global economy that’s still in a slump. It’s certainly ‘dark skies and ominous forecast’ from where AMD is standing right now.

So, having been backed for the Chief Sales Officer role, what kind of financial backing can Byrne expect for his revolution?   Judging by AMD’s recent announcements to raise hundreds of millions of dollars in the old war chest – KitGuru guesses that he’s being backed to the kilt [Sorry, hilt – Ed].

There are a lot of ways to measure the success of a Chief Sales Officer, but if Byrne can 'hold a mirror' to the right of this image - and generate an increase in share price similar to the slump we've been following - that would definitely be a win.

Two years ago we asked “Can AMD sack its way to success?” – but the reality is that if we all want multiple processor options for desktops and notebooks, then we need Intel to feel pressure. That wouldn’t come from a never ending stream of redundancies. It would come from consistent sales increases. There’s the black and white for bean counters. Reducing costs is fine, but you must increase revenue if you want to succeed on a global stage. AMD would not be lining up hundreds of millions of dollars in cash unless it had a plan to spend it. Looks like 2012/13 will be very interesting for the processor market after all.

KitGuru says: Can Byrne use the inertia of his new appointment to refocus AMD’s product teams, redistribute its sales man power according to the likely growth of the various markets, pick the right battles to fight with Intel while ensuring that it does not suffer market erosion from ARM and Samsung?   It’s a tough ask, but a multi-billion dollar organisation has a much better chance of succeeding in these goals if it DOES have someone leading the sales team than if the role is left vacant for almost 8 months.

Comment below or in the KitGuru forums.

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