Seagate replaces Watkins as CEO

Chairman Stephen Luczo, who served as chief executive of the hard-drive maker once before, takes over the reins at Seagate.

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Seagate CEO Bill Watkins at CES 2009
Seagate CEO Bill Watkins at CES 2009. Erica Ogg/CNET Networks

Updated with additional information about layoffs.

Disk-drive maker Seagate Technology announced Monday that Chairman Stephen Luczo is now also serving as CEO and president of the company.

That spells the end of the tenure of Bill Watkins, who has been with the company for 12 years and has served as CEO since 2004. Seagate said that Watkins will be advising Luczo to ensure a smooth transition and that the two executives will "confer over the next week" on whether Watkins will have any continuing role at Seagate.

The company also announced that it is laying off 800 people, about 10 percent of its workforce.

At the Consumer Electronics Show last week, it was still business as usual for Watkins. In an interview with CNET News, he spoke about, among other things, the role of hard-disk drives--like those made by Seagate--in small, lightweight Netbook computers:

For us, it's a big win, since we can sell a lot of drives then. Everyone tries to low-end storage, but they can't get away with it.

Luczo, who has been with Seagate for 15 years, has been chairman since mid-2002. He also previously served as CEO, from July 1998 to July 2004, a period during which the company went private (2000) and then public again (2002).

More about the current and expected future state of Seagate should be known on January 21, when the company is set to report its fiscal second-quarter earnings.