The 10 richest tech companies

Owen Thomas · 10/14/08 07:00PM

Where's the debt crisis in Silicon Valley? The knock-on effects are all too real, but frozen credit markets have had little direct effect on business operations, aside from possibly scotching the debt-fueled sales of Alltel and Nextel. That's because technology companies are run by paranoid sorts who like to keep large cash reserves, in case some upstart renders their market obsolete. In good times, activist shareholders whinged about their parsimonious habits, but the cash hoarders are now sitting pretty — and could be set for acquisition binges.One company which listened, to its detriment, to shareholders was Microsoft. When Bill Gates ran the software company, he liked to keep a year's worth of expenses on hand, in case things went awry. Microsoft is no longer quite so stingy with its cash; it dribbles some out in dividends, and gave shareholders a $32 billion payout a few years back. Good thing it didn't shell out $44 billion for Yahoo; that deal would have left it cash-poor and debt-ridden, at exactly the wrong time. Even so, Microsoft's balance sheet is no longer the most sterling in tech. So who's got cash on hand? Here are the 10 richest tech companies, from a Yahoo Finance screening. (I left out companies, like IBM, whose cash was matched by equally outsized debts.)

Intel's good news: Not as bad off as AMD!

Owen Thomas · 10/14/08 04:00PM

Intel's revenues for the most recent quarter were flat, but its profits were up 12 percent on expense cuts. (Read: layoffs!) Intel CEO Paul Otellini says the company expects to "outpace" its competition. Right: That would be AMD, the chipmaker which is trying to shed its chipmaking facilities. Outpacing AMD is like running a three-legged race against a double amputee. [WSJ]

AMD splitting in two, finally

Paul Boutin · 10/07/08 11:00AM

After months of teasing, AMD finally gave the New York Times the official word for publication this morning: The company will split into a chip design firm and a chip manufacturing company, temporarily named the Foundry Company, that will make chips for AMD and other clients. Abu Dhabi investment firm Advanced Technology has put up $2.1 billion for Foundry, with a pledge of billions more later. This leaves Intel, as new NYT reporter Ashlee Vance summarized, "the only significant maker of PC chips to still design and build its own products."

Street Talk: Fed Takes More Action

cityfile · 10/07/08 05:14AM

♦ Invoking emergency powers, the Fed will create a special fund to buy up commercial paper—short-term debt that companies typically use for such things as payroll—in an effort to ease up the credit markets. [Bloomberg]
♦ Wachovia and its sparring suitors, Citigroup and Wells Fargo, have agreed to a two-day truce as negotiators try to work out a resolution. [WSJ, DB]
♦ Did you miss Lehman CEO Dick Fuld's testimony before the House yesterday? A recap. [WSJ, FT, NYT]
♦ Bank of America reports that profits plunged 68% in the third quarter. [CNNMoney]

Please share your semiconducted romances and microprocessed fears

Jackson West · 09/04/08 09:20AM

Let's face it, the world of Web development and production is a glamorous sham. The real science is in semiconductors. That cute Ajax script kiddie with the asymmetrical haircut? Ask him to design a microprocessor cache bus. Learn a little ActionScript? Go ahead and try to get a job pinning Intel chips to nuclear reactor control systems or laser-guided bombs. Even if you're a C++ jock or MapReduce expert, your gonads shrink when an actual electronic engineer is in the room. It's okay, you can admit it. We will.We've been focused too much on software and content, even though we know there's someone from SanDisk who just flipped their lid on the playa. Likewise, there must be some poor pacifist at PA Semi who, all too happy to get sold to Apple, learned they had to continue engineering chip fab designs for jets, subs and choppers. I mean, c'mon, AMD minions, can you come up with no good dirt on Intel executives? I yearn to hear the stories from the actual front lines of technology, and not from the front of the line at the British Bankers Club or 111 Minna. Do tell. (Photo by Marcin Wichary)

AMD teases Valley with slow-motion split

Paul Boutin · 08/12/08 11:20AM

A month before the Valley's perpetual Avis of chipmakers coronated heir apparent Dirk Meyer as CEO in July, the company had leaked rumors of a pending split into two separate businesses. One would be solely devoted solely to running the company's two chip-fabrication plants, the other to doing all the fun stuff. The upside for AMD?By selling off its fab plants, it could hopefully turn around its $1 billion-plus losses. Tom's Hardware Guide spinoff TG Daily now cites "sources" — don't you hate those? I know I do — who claim the split is only weeks away. Here's what's really happening: The split is real. The "leaks" and "sources" are AMD's way of letting the market know what's up without formally committing to it in a statement.

Street Talk

cityfile · 07/18/08 05:02AM
  • Merrill Lynch's $4.65 billion second-quarter loss was almost twice what analysts had predicted; the firm also wrote down an additional $9.5 billion in connection with subprime losses. [Bloomberg]

AMD CEO Hector Ruiz out

Owen Thomas · 07/17/08 06:40PM

The CEO who, for a moment, turned the tide in AMD's long struggle with rival chipmaker Intel, is out, replaced by COO Dirk Meyer. The company recently posted a $1.2 billion loss. [San Jose Mercury News]

AMD to take nearly $1 billion loss for the quarter — but only issues $32 million in pink slips

Paul Boutin · 07/11/08 12:00PM

Chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices will take a $948 million charge for Q2, the company announced this morning. Much like last year, the bulk of the writedown is due to the declining value of the company's ATI acquisition, for which it paid $5.4 billion in 2006. The resulting lines of cellphone graphics chips and digital TV chips just haven't sold as well as expected. The company's quad-core mobile graphics chip, codenamed Eagle, won't arrive to save the day until 2010. More important to some of us: A $32 million charge for employee severance packages.

Tech's 10 worst-rated CEOs, according to their employees

Nicholas Carlson · 06/12/08 10:00AM

Click to viewBenchmark-backed popped out of stealth mode as a site that lets users find out what employees think of their employers. As a part of the ratings, company CEO's get a grade. Some, such as Cisco's John T. Chambers and Apple's Steve Jobs fared very well — coming away with 93 percent and 95 percent approval ratings. Others, including Microsoft's Steve Ballmer and Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang, did not. The ten worst-rated CEO's and what employees told Glassdoor they think about them, below.

AMD CEO Hector Ruiz promises profitability, but reveals no concrete plan

Jackson West · 05/08/08 01:40PM

In today's scheduled conference with analysts in Austin, AMD CEO Hector Ruiz didn't make any rumored announcements about splitting the company into multiple divisions or contracting out the business of fabricating semiconductors. He did admit that 2007 was "a difficult year of transition," and that he was disappointed with the company's financial performance. Otherwise, he only promised that any plans regarding changes to AMD's fabrication division would come "in the very near future," and promised to cut any divisions that couldn't come up with plan to achieve profitability. Companywide, Ruiz promised only that he hoped to get the books back in black by the end of the year. The company's stock price was up briefly after the announcement on heavy trading after a drop, but is back to where it opened and treading water.

AMD accuses Intel of microprocessor payola

Jackson West · 05/08/08 12:20PM

Struggling chipmaker AMD has added a new allegation to the company's antitrust complaint against rival chipmaker Intel. In a 108-page document filed in federal court, plaintiff AMD accused defendant Intel of paying manufacturers like Dell not to use AMD processors, citing internal emails and other documents which were turned over through the discovery process in the case. AMD has been struggling, having laid off thousands in the last few months. CEO Hector Ruiz, pictured here, is expected to make a major announcement today in Austin, Texas, possibly splitting up the company into separate chip-design and chip-fabrication businesses.

AMD CEO's "Business Class" brand gambit

Owen Thomas · 04/29/08 12:00PM

Is Hector Ruiz launching AMD into the business of making PCs? Not exactly. But after getting pummeled by Intel in 2007, the chipmaker wants to have more of a hand in designing them. It's no longer enough to sell chips, a field in which AMD excels technically; one must sell "chipsets" — entire ready-to-go packages of computing parts, including all the silicon a computer needs. Dell, HP, and others will actually manufacture AMD's new "Business Class" desktops and notebooks.

Here's one person AMD won't have to lay off

Jordan Golson · 04/11/08 03:20PM

Chipmaker AMD has announced several layoffs recently. This one, the company claims, has nothing to do with that. AMD's chief technology officer Phil Hester has resigned. The company will not be filling his position, but instead will rely on CTOs in individual technology groups within the company to run the show. Wait: AMD has more than one CTO? Why not lay off all of them? That seems easier.

AMD cutting more jobs

Jordan Golson · 04/07/08 05:00PM

Chipmaker AMD is cutting 10 percent of its workforce, about 1,650 jobs. Just last month the company axed 800 workers. The proximate cause: a prolonged price war between intel and AMD, lengthened by AMD's late introduction of a high-end chip for servers. [WSJ]

Iraqi bombs: AMD inside

Nicholas Carlson · 04/02/08 11:21AM

Sunnyvale computer-chip manufacturer AMD has strained ties between the United States and Dubai, one of the United Arab Emirates. In 2005, AMD chips were discovered inside unexploded roadside bombs similar to the kind depicted in the propaganda clip below. An anonymous American official told the New York Times that no deaths are "known" to have been linked to bombs with AMD inside.