Archive: August 1999 — Athlon’s ascent

Advance Micro Devices gave its K6 line of processors the boot four years ago, when it prepared a new line it hoped would take it to the highest reaches of the enterprise market.

The company engaged the services of a naming company to help it come up with the rebranding. The result was Athlon, which was meant to suggest a processor with athletic ability to survive a biathlon or triathlon of complex operations within a PC chassis.

The launch came at a crucial time for AMD, which had undergone a slew of management changes and some disappointing financial results. Its executives, however, remained optimistic.

“”As shareholders, some of what’s happened recently may be disappointing,”” an AMD exec told Computer Dealer News. “”AMD has shown remarkable resiliency. Our customers can now see that delivery is taking place, and we are increasing our market share.””

Though Athlon made some strides in the market, it never came close to displacing competing products from Intel. But hope springs eternal. AMD is now concentrating on a 64-bit version of Athlon’s successor, Operton, to increase its market share.

A long saga came to an end in 1999 when Hummingbird slashed several key executive positions at PC Docs.

Earlier that year, PC Docs had been at the centre of a hostile takeover bid from Ottawa-based Open Text Corp. Hummingbird was seen as something of a white knight when it made its acquisition, but the integration process soon saw the departure of Rubin Osten, who created the PC Docs Group; PC Docs Canada president Lynn Kauffman; PC Docs/Fulcrum president Craig Wallace, as well as the company’s former chief financial officer and its vice-president of human resources.

Kauffman was relatively sanguine about the turn of events. “”I guess they want to take the pieces that they like about our organization and leave the pieces that they don’t, which isn’t necessarily the people,”” she said at the time. “”I don’t think it was a personal decision that they didn’t want Lynn Kauffman or Ruby Osten. They didn’t want those positions.””

Hummingbird has continued an aggressive acquisition strategy since then. Most recently it bought UK records management firm Value Added Systems to help increase its share of the public sector market.

That same summer, the B.C. government released a new version of its Profile of the British Columbia Technology Sector, which showed employment up five per cent to 46,000; and high-tech exports up 26 per cent while high-tech imports rose nine per cent.

Despite the positive numbers, the local British Columbia Technology Industries Association (TIA), released a report card of its own the day after the government’s report was made public. The TIA study was less sanguine about the industry’s prospects. The report’s foreword said the average technology worker’s salary was down from 1997. Surveyed CEOs reported that one of every two employees that left a B.C. technology company actually left the province.

Though some of the issues surrounding the debate — like taxation — remain, the province continues to grow. The BCTIA formed a committee earlier this year whose mandate will be to attract more venture capital to the area.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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