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End of an era at ARM, as CEO Warren East retires

ARM(s armh), the British chip architecture firm responsible for powering the vast majority of mobile phones and tablets, will soon have a new CEO: Simon Segars, currently the company’s president. Warren East will retire at the end of June.

East, 51, has been CEO at ARM since 2001, although he has been at the firm since 1994 (he was originally head of ARM’s consulting business, then business operations chief, then COO). Segars, 45, has been at the company even longer – since 1991, shortly before Apple(s app) incorporated the ARM6 design into its Newton PDA. Like East, Segars is an engineer who evolved into sales and business development roles.

Both men are largely responsible for turning ARM, once a mere spinoff of Acorn Computers, into what it is today: Intel’s(s intc) nightmare. For not only does ARM dominate in the mobile device, which is in itself supplanting Intel’s desktop base, and in embedded processors, but it is even squaring up to the x86 crowd in the server space. And all the while, it doesn’t have to make the processors itself: unlike Intel, ARM only designs the architecture, leaving the rest up to a massive partner ecosystem featuring players such as Qualcomm(s qcom), Samsung and Nvidia(s nvda).

Here’s ARM chairman John Buchanan:

“Warren has transformed ARM during his time as CEO. In 2001 ARM had one processor product line found mainly in mobile phones. Now ARM provides the broadest portfolio of technologies in the industry, used by more than 300 semiconductor customers in nearly 9 billion chips last year.

“During Warren’s tenure the company has received royalties for over 40 billion ARM-based chips. As CEO he has created a strong platform for growth and consistently created value for shareholders even in a challenging external environment. On behalf of the Board, and the wider ARM team, deep thanks are due to Warren for his passion, service and leadership.”

So, will the leadership change affect ARM’s strategy? Right now ARM is safe in its mobile stronghold, although Intel’s efforts there are not the joke observers once suspected they might be – Intel’s mobile processors are surprisingly capable when it comes to raw performance and power efficiency, although ARM still edges ahead in the graphics department.

We can glean a sense of continuity from the words of East and Segars themselves. According to East, the two men “share a global perspective and belief in the ARM approach to partnership and collaboration.” Segars said East’s “vision of the ARM business model and commitment to the ARM partnership has been inspirational and has created a tremendous platform for future growth”.

2 Responses to “End of an era at ARM, as CEO Warren East retires”

  1. Nicholas

    In the mid-1990s it became apparent to me how powerful a business ARM had. The future of computing was lighter in weight with Cobalt Cubes and Psion Netbooks soon to arrive. It is difficult to see how somebody could have managed that transition to the future better!

    Good luck.

  2. realjjj

    ARM is not that safe in mobile, they need to decide if and how they fight consolidation. There is a fine line they need to walk to keep a balance between those that invest a lot to develop their own computing units for the SoC and those that just license them.
    There are a bunch of computing units in a SoC that they could license (including the modem) and more of them ahead so we’ll have to see if they go for that and how they avoid harming the ones spending a lot to develop their own solutions to keep diversity alive in the ecosystem.
    You also got the process wall that might be a problem soon enough and wearable devices that are a challenge requiring lower power yet acceptable perf.
    The new CEO will have to earn his pay ,plenty of problems to not get bored.