Former Synaptics CEO Rick Bergman Rejoins AMD To Lead PC And Semi-Custom Businesses

By Patrick Moorhead - August 19, 2019
Rick Bergman presents at the AMD Fusion Developer Conference in 2011

AMD announced today that former CEO of Synaptics Inc., Rick Bergman, will be rejoining AMD to run what the company calls its “Computing and Graphics” (CG) business segment. The CG segment is its largest and includes its PC, gaming, and semi-custom businesses, which include the AMD Ryzen, Radeon and game console products and platforms. Last quarter, AMD announced CG revenue was $940M, down 13% year-over-year and up 13% sequentially.

Bergman comes into AMD with a tremendous amount of industry experience, including former CEO and President of Synaptics. Under his 8-year leadership tenure, revenue increased annually from $515M in 2011 to $1.63B in 2018, which included a hard pivot from a PC and smartphone-centric focus to an IoT focus which I wrote about here. Before Synaptics, Bergman spent ten years in senior executive roles at AMD and ATI, including head of AMD’s Product Group, AMD’s Graphics Product Group, and ATI’s PC Group.  I believe AMD had 50% discrete GPU unit market share during the second half of Bergman’s AMD tenure. He also had leadership roles at S3 Graphics, Texas Instruments, and IBM.

I worked with Bergman a for few years during my AMD tenure and considered him a smart, analytical and fair leader. I asked one of his former direct reports who preferred not to be named in this article about him and they said that “I would add behind his quiet demeanor, he is intensively competitive, always pushing his team.” Bergman gets paired up again with AMD’s lead graphics engineering executive, David Wang, and former Synaptics senior vice president of Systems Silicon Engineering, which I think is quite interesting.

I got to know Bergman even better during his CEO role at Synaptics. At Synaptics, I watched him lead the company through some difficult strategy shifts and acquisitions, resulting in some big growth. Bergman comes at an essential time in AMD’s trajectory, and this time he has a lot more IP and architecture to work with than he did in his prior AMD stint. I am looking forward to seeing where he takes the CG business.

The new Ryzen consumer desktops look very promising, and Bergman will need to successfully guide the division to where the more significant revenues and profits are- notebooks and commercial systems. Radeons are doing better with its consumer, mid-range RX 5700 launch and the team will need to find a way to move up the pricing stack as well as increase its Radeon Pro presence. The semi-custom business is the Microsoft and Sony game console business, which is an exercise in execution and figuring out where that business goes if cloud gaming replaces it. Strategically, AMD would be best served to find more ways to take better advantage of “AMD on AMD,” which has been elusive since AMD’s ATI acquisition in 2006.

In the last two weeks, AMD has picked up two very heavy hitters, Rick Bergman from Synaptics, and Frank Azor from Dell, which I wrote about here. You only see these kinds of high caliber individuals headed to a company if they like what they saw on the roadmap or thought they could help move the company forward. This must be an exciting time for employees, customers, and investors.

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Patrick founded the firm based on his real-world world technology experiences with the understanding of what he wasn’t getting from analysts and consultants. Ten years later, Patrick is ranked #1 among technology industry analysts in terms of “power” (ARInsights)  in “press citations” (Apollo Research). Moorhead is a contributor at Forbes and frequently appears on CNBC. He is a broad-based analyst covering a wide variety of topics including the cloud, enterprise SaaS, collaboration, client computing, and semiconductors. He has 30 years of experience including 15 years of executive experience at high tech companies (NCR, AT&T, Compaq, now HP, and AMD) leading strategy, product management, product marketing, and corporate marketing, including three industry board appointments.