Contradictions stalk former AMD chief

Hector Ruiz, now at the center of a Silicon Valley scandal, was quick to rail against Intel's alleged unscrupulous business practices.

commentary Hector Ruiz was quick to display righteous indignation about Intel's alleged unscrupulous business practices. Now--in one of life's delicious ironies-- he's a central figure in the biggest scandal to hit Silicon Valley in years.

In a letter from Ruiz that still sits on AMD's Web site and is still signed above the title "Executive Chairman and Chairman of the Board Advanced Micro Devices," he rails against Intel for "breaking the law." And on another Web page bearing his photograph, there are more accusations leveled at Intel for its alleged "illegal" behavior.

In the coming months, Ruiz may face the same kind of scrutiny for illegal behavior that he campaigned against so zealously during his six-year reign as the CEO and chairman of AMD.

The 'truth' about Intel that Ruiz campaigned to expose.  Ironically, the truth about the former AMD CEO is now at the center of a Silicon Valley scandal.
The 'truth' about Intel that Ruiz campaigned to expose. Ironically, the truth about the former AMD CEO is now at the center of a Silicon Valley scandal. AMD

And one of the operative phrases in that letter, "pattern of abuse," may turn out to be little more than facile argument that can easily be turned back on Ruiz himself, if it is established that he abused the trust placed in him by stockholders.

In short, if Ruiz was connected--however indirectly--to Raj Rajaratnam and the Galleon Group, then his--and his former company's--constant haranguing of Intel and the never-ending appeals to governments to go after Intel, lose some of their punch. Especially if it is little more than a stratagem to gain market share.

Based on the U.S. Attorney's allegations, Ruiz exhibited a pattern of behavior that would rightfully invite scrutiny on any CEO. As the deal to spin off AMD's manufacturing operations got closer, Ruiz allegedly talked freely with Danielle Chiesi, who worked for the New Castle hedge fund, about details of the deal, which at that time were confidential, insider information items. And Rajaratnam and Chiesi allegedly made large investments in AMD based on this information.

Ruiz was the man driving the spin-off of AMD's manufacturing operations. In earnings conference calls, while he was still chairman of AMD, he was the go-to man for information about AMD's efforts to streamline its manufacturing operations--which AMD at one time called "asset lite"--and ultimately the person spearheading the deal with Advanced Technology Investment and Abu Dhabi-based Mubadala Development, who invested billions in the spin-off.

And what's the greatest irony of all? As the U.S. government reportedly readies an antitrust case against Intel, the government may also be forced to examine the unscrupulous behavior of one the principals who pushed the government to move against Intel. That's some pretty heavy irony.

About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.

 

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