Transmeta gets a new CEO

Ditzel, also a co-founder of the startup, will become vice chairman and chief technology officer.

A Transmeta spokesman portrayed the move as a natural transition for a young and growing company.

"Dave is really the technology and strategy leader of the company and Mark is running the day-to-day business operations, so it's a move that really takes advantage of both their strengths," the spokesman said.

One analyst noted that it's not uncommon for a startup to shuffle its top management in the first year or two after products come to market.

"You often find that after the first couple of years the founder finds himself in a position where he's the evangelist, the technologist, but the company needs to bring in more professional, executive material to take things to the next level," said Kevin Krewell, a senior analyst with MicroDesign Resources.

The switch may also be a sign that everything is not going according to plan inside the company, Krewell added, characterising the shuffle as "a demotion" for Ditzel.

After developing its products in secrecy for almost five years, Transmeta created a big marketing splash when it unveiled its power-saving processors in January 2000, forcing chip giant Intel to respond quickly with some low-power initiatives of its own. Since the first Transmeta chips came to market in November, however, some analysts have questioned the validity of Transmeta's claims that its chips can provide "all-day battery life." In addition, its relationships with PC manufacturers haven't always been successful, Krewell noted.

IBM, for example, in November dropped its plans to introduce a lightweight laptop based on Transmeta's Crusoe processor, and eventually unveiled a similar notebook armed with an Intel chip. Transmeta has scored design wins with a number of manufacturers including Sony, NEC, Hitachi and Fujitsu. In addition, Gateway and America Online have said they plan to offer a Web tablet powered by a Transmeta chip.

Those design wins are testimony to Transmeta's ongoing success, according to the Transmeta spokesman.

"I am extremely proud of the progress Transmeta has made over the last six years from the start-up stage to a company shipping Crusoe microprocessors to major OEM customers," Ditzel said in the statement. Transmeta has achieved its original vision and is poised for growth, and Ditzel will increase his focus on the company's future product strategy and technology development, he said.

Allen has been president and chief operating officer of Transmeta since January 2000. He previously held executive positions at chip companies NVidia, C-Cube Microsystems and Cypress Semiconductor.

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James Niccolai

PC World
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