Maxtor has apointed Michael Wingert to be its new COO and president, a day after Paul Tufano was ejected from the president and CEO position. The appointment signals that Maxtor most probably is not for sale and that its recovery will be production-led.
Maxtor chairman and acting-CEO Dr. C.S. Park, said, "His industry experience and in-depth knowledge of product development, manufacturing and operations make him an ideal candidate to support Maxtor in its efforts to achieve profitability as quickly as possible."
Maxtor has a $200 million manufacturing facility being built in the Suzhou Industrial Park near Shanghai, China. Unless it gets itself sorted out there will be no need to make any drives in it when it comes on stream towards the end of this year.
This must be one of the fastest appointments on record. What makes it even more surprising is that Wingert was CEO of Cornice, where he became CEO on September 14th, just two months ago, having joined in June - from Maxtor - as Cornice's COO and president. From COO to CEO and back to COO in two months is some career progression. Cornice might well feel disappointed at his abrupt departure.
The interview process for such positions lasts for months. Wingert must have been talking to Maxtor when he was Cornice CEO and possibly before. What a busy man he must have been.
Cornice has issued a statement about Wingert 'stepping down'. It does not, tellingly, offer him any thanks for achievements or good wishes for the future. Bill Schroeder, a successful Silicon Valley entrepreneur, has today joined the Cornice Board of Directors. He was formerly the CEO of Vormetric, Diamond Multimedia Systems, and president and vice chairman of Connor Peripherals.
Cornice has formed a new Office of the CEO to ensure continuity with customers, partners, and investors. Bill Schroeder will serve as its executive chairman, supported by Kevin Magenis (founder & chairman) and Jeff Elberson (executive vice president and CFO). They will divvy up the CEO role. One of their first tasks is to find a new and experienced CEO with an entrepreneurial approach.
It's safe to assume they won't be looking in Maxtor. There, Wingert's responsibilities are for engineering, advanced technology, materials, fulfillment, quality and manufacturing. Manufacturing is the responsibility of Fariba Danesh, executive vice president, operations, who reports to Wingert and was appointed September 16th by ex-Maxtor CEO Paul Tufano. She stays in place, being responsible for manufacturing, materials and fulfillment, and quality functions, also media manufacturing operations.
Maxtor is now left looking for a CFO. Asked if it was also looking for a CEO, Annie Bernard, head of marketing in Europe, said, "I don't know."
It is a puzzle why Maxtor did not appoint Wingert CEO as well. With him being full time in the COO role the speculation is that, if he gets manufacturing sorted out, he will be a shoe-in for the CEO position. That might explain why he gave up the Cornice CEO role for a lesser position at Maxtor, that and a trouser-pocket full of dollars and stock options.
Cornice makes a 1 inch stripped-down disk drive called the Storage Element. It comes in 1, 1.5 and 2GB versions. The company was founded in 2000 and is currently being sued by both Seagate and Western Digital for patent infringement. Cornice is counter-suing both companies.
The Wingert appointment might be a signal that Maxtor could be evaluating the possibilities of the Storage Element. The current product range is concentrated in the server and PC segments, both heavily commoditised and suffering price erosion from over-capacity in manufacturing. Maxtor has no notebook and sub-notebook consumer drives and these market sectors are high-growth compared to servers and PCs. Cornice's SE is ideally situated in the sub-notebook drive sector.