Beyer Leaving Freescale

You always know why a bad guy goes, but when a good guy gives up a job, you wonder: Why? Has he a better place to go? Have the politics with shareholders/owners got too much? Does he feel he’s completed the job?

So, when Rich Beyer, one of the semiconductor industry’s most outstanding CEOs, said he’d retire last week the speculation is why?  

As CEO of Elantec, Intersil and Freescale, Beyer was a transformative leader.

In February 2008, Beyer took on the worst job in the semiconductor industry – leading the private equity owned Freescale.

Blackstone, Freescale’s private equity owner, had grossly over-valued Freescale at $17.6 billion when it bought it in 2006 and had loaded it up with $10 billion of debt.

Beyer had to find $750 million a year just to service the debt. On top of that he had to find ways to repay, or re-negotiate repayments, of the debt capital as it fell due.

Then the market turned, the credit crunch overwhelmed the world economy, and the prospects for Freescale looked dire.

Beyer, a former officer in the US Marine Corps, was a steady hand. “The private equity owners realise they need to stay the course – a good solid course to increase shareholder value,” said Beyer at that time, “they believe we have the right strategy and absolutely want to run it for the long term.”

Beyer shaved $3 billion off the debt in his tenure as CEO and reduced annual interest payments to $500 million.

It must have been tough, though, to IPO last May and see all the proceeds go to paying down debt.

Any semi CEO, and Beyer is among the best, would have itched to put that money into product development.

At 63, Beyer is young enough to take another leading role in the industry where his unique qualities both as a semiconductor executive and as a man are much needed.



  1. Yes Mike, but no one would mistake Ed for an officer and a gentleman. He was born a shit so he fits into the private equity community.

  2. > I don’t suppose the PE people gave him that chance. It must be soul-destroying to work like that for long
    Ed seems to manage … rather well in fact 🙂

  3. Thanks [anonymous] that’s interesting. I had a few long 1-on-1s with him when he was at Intersil and thought him an officer and gentleman who would probably do the right thing given the chance. I don’t suppose the PE people gave him that chance. It must be soul-destroying to work like that for long

  4. PE guys forced him out and have been planning it for 6 months.
    Maybe the PE guys didn’t understand Russian when Beyer communicated with them. Also remember the general rules about some CEOs, what you see from the outside bears no resemblance to what they become on the inside!

  5. I think he was on a hiding to nothing from the start, X, the debt was so huge it couldn’t be repaid and serviced while maintaining a healthy company. He shouldn’t have taken the job.

  6. There was a perception that he was following the mythical 5 page PE quick guide for CEOs running a company. Slash headcount, freeze salaries, close fabs, cut investment in new products, actually cut salaries 10%, slash headcount again, sell anything not nailed to the floor, and introduce management by metrics. Rinse and then repeat. Sales have declined steadily but cost cutting has led to an improvement in the bottom line. Will it reach break even at $0 sales and $0 cost of goods sold?

  7. I don’t believe too many Freescale employees or ex-employees think of Rich as to a great CEO. I know a few people working for this company and the general perception among them was that RB was another puppet in the PE’s hands.

  8. Rich Beyer was COO of VLSI Technology for two years, and was seen as heir apparent to Al Stein. Al (and VLSI) lost out when he moved on.

  9. Ah, that would be a good thing for Freescale, thanks Fred.

  10. I understand that he may stay on as chairman if that is agreeable to the new CEO.

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