Arik Hesseldahl

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CFO Seifert Is Latest Exec to Bolt Chipmaker AMD

It has been a little more than a year since chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices named Rory Read, a former Lenovo and IBM exec, as its CEO.

And, as usually happens when a new CEO comes to a company, there has been a lot of upheaval among the senior management ranks at AMD. The latest is CFO Thomas Seifert, who resigned in order to pursue other interests.

Sources familiar with the situation say that Seifert, 48, is interested in finding a job where he has a shot at being CEO. He served briefly as acting CEO at AMD after the surprise resignation of then-CEO Dirk Meyer 19 months ago. Read was named CEO after a search that dragged on for seven months.

As I said, some upheaval is natural. But the departures from AMD are starting to pile up — the confirmed exits, counting Meyer and Seifert, are now 26 by my count, and I’m sure I’m missing some. Among them is a name not yet reported but confirmed by AllThingsD: Chris Cloran, VP in charge of AMD’s Client business — “client,” in this case, refers to PCs for both businesses and consumers — who left the company late last week, though his status on LinkedIn is not yet updated to reflect that fact.

Some of the people were fired, caught up in a reduction in force which Read ordered late last year. But most left on their own power, bound for jobs at places like Samsung, Synaptics and Calxeda.

Now, it’s not as if there haven’t been any key hires at AMD. Just last month, the company brought on Jim Keller, the former head chip designer at Apple. And last year it hired its CIO away from Hewlett-Packard. And there have been new hires in the graphics business. It also named Jack Harding, the chairman of eSilicon, as a director on its board. So there are some new people offsetting some of the departures, but the number of recent departures listed all together — all of them having taken place since Meyer was pushed out last year — is pretty stunning.

It’s worth nothing that AMD shares fell by more than 7 percent, or 30 cents, on the news of the CFO’s resignation. It’s been a rough ride for AMD shareholders over the course of the last year. Before Meyer’s ouster, the shares were trading above $9. On Monday they closed at $4.01, down 56 percent. The stock only fell further — another 7.5 percent — in after-hours trading, as markets reacted to word of Seifert’s departure.

Meyer’s 2011 ouster is said to have been precipitated by an argument with the board of directors over the direction of the company. Chairman Bruce Claflin, a former 3Com CEO, is said to have quarreled with Meyer over the need to invest heavily in chips for mobile devices, like tablets. Meyer is said to have resisted, arguing that AMD needed another year of improved stability before investing in any significant new product directions. Claflin disagreed, and pushed for a more aggressive stance in light of advances by Nvidia into mobile PCs and tablets.

Update: As of noon ET, AMD shares have fallen on the New York Stock Exchange by 32 cents, or nearly 8 percent, to $3.69.

Here’s what I’m sure is only a partial list, gathered from various news stories, LinkedIn profiles and chats with people familiar with AMD’s operations:

Bob Rivet, Executive VP and COO
Nigel Dessau, Chief Marketing Officer
Marty Seyer, Senior VP of Corporate Strategy
Patrick Moorhead, Corporate VP, Strategy
Patrick Patla, VP and General Manager, Opteron unit
Jim Mergard, VP and Chief Engineer
David Wang, Corporate VP Products Group
Ben Williams, Corporate VP and General Manager of Asia Pacific
Dave Kroll, VP for Global Communications
Jon Volkmann, Corporate VP and Marketing Fellow
Jeff VerHeul, Corporate VP of Platform Solutions Engineering
Bob Feldstein, VP of Strategic Development
Chris Cloran, General Manager, Processor Division
Andy Tseng, Corporate VP and General Manager, Taiwan
Frank Lee, Senior VP for Greater China
Anand Mandapati, Senior Director of Engineering
Carrell Killebrew, Director of Products Group
Eric Demers, Graphics CTO
Godfrey Cheng, Director of Client Technologies
Rick Bergman, General Manager, Products Group,
Gamal Refai-Ahmed, Senior Architect, ATI
John Bruno, System Architect, Office of the Chief Engineer
Paul Teich, Senior Fellow Corporate Strategy for Servers
John Fruehe, Director of Server Product Marketing
Emilio Ghilardi, Senior Vice President and Chief Sales Officer

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus