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Incoming 3dfx CEO has axe and is willing to use it

If it's necessary to 'clean house' I will, warns Leupp

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3dfx's outgoing CEO Greg Ballard, who quit in apparent disgrace over the company's inability to get its next-generation 3D chip, the VSA 100, out in time for Christmas, has named his successor: Alex Leupp. Leupp was until last week president and CEO of Chip Express, a Santa Clara, California-based ASIC developer, and spent six years running Siemens' semiconductor operation, so is no stranger to the business of silicon design and development. He's also no stranger to silicon technology -- according to 3dfx, Leupp's PhD is in semiconductor physics and he has a number of semiconductor patents to his name. Ballard's resignation statement said he wanted to hand to reigns over to someone with a more technical background, and from Leupp's resume, it's clear the company has found one. Certainly, the company's current run of loss-making quarters has been in part due to the difficulties getting the VSA 100, codenamed Napalm, announced officially last week at Comdex, out of the door, and Leupp will presumably provide a lead here. That said, the chief reason for the loss has been the STB acquisition -- despite the lack of Napalm product, Voodoo 3 continues to sell well, and while rival products like Nvidia's GeForce 256 continue to lack software support for their more advanced feature, Voodoo 3 still has some breathing space until Napalm turns up. Given, 3dfx's problems primarily relate to infrastructure rather than products, Leupp's plane to get 3dfx "making money" could very well lead to cost-cutting measures. "If it is necessary to clean house, then that is the case," he told EE Times. "I've done it before, and I'll do it again if I need to." That should at least bring encouragement to 3dfx's shareholders, who have seen the company's stock plummet in value over the last five months or so as an early release date for Napalm was extended out into 2000. Ballard's resignation gave a short boost to the stock, but so far, as did Leupp's appointment -- well, just about. Real improvements, however, won't come until the new guy is clearly seen to be solving 3dfx's financial woes. ®

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