Ousted former chief executive of Rambus Dr. Ron Black has found a new home at a considerably shrunken Imagination Technologies, where he is to take over from current chief executive Dr. Leo Li.

Dr. Ron Black served as chief executive at intellectual property (IP) licensing company Rambus, which made something of a name for itself with aggressive, arguably anticompetitive licensing behaviours and for the destruction of evidence in a case against memory maker SK Hynix, until June this year when he was summarily dismissed over an issue with his conduct in office. Details were not provided by the company bar a declaration that whatever his wrongdoings they were 'not related to the company's operations or finances'.

Now, Dr. Black is back in the role of chief executive, having found a new company to lead: Imagination Technologies, which hit a rocky patch when Apple ditched its GPU technology in favour of in-house tech back in 2016. In the two years since, Imagination has shrunk considerably: The company has sold its MIPS CPU subsidiary along with its its IMGworks semiconductor design division, but acquisition by a Chinese equity fund gave it enough of a boost to announce new technologies including a 'visually lossless' compression IP and new GPU and neural network accelerator (NNA) designs.

'I have worked with Ron previously and have considerable respect for his leadership capabilities, technical understanding and strategic thinking,' claims Imagination executive chair Ray Bingham in a statement which mentions Dr. Black's six-year tenure at Rambus but not the circumstances surrounding his termination. 'With over 25 years at the cutting edge of technology, and with a hugely successful track record in change management and creating value, Ron’s experience and vision for the future will enable him to lead Imagination, building on its strong strategy for delivering leading AI and GPU technologies.

'His appointment demonstrates our commitment to enabling Imagination to hire the best talent across its leadership, technical, commercial, and support teams, to create new technology, and to gain, serve, and retain customers worldwide. We thank Leo for all that he has done to lay firm foundations for the future and to build a strong management team at Imagination. This is a natural evolution for Leo and we hope that his new business will be a significant customer of ours in the future and we wish him every success.'

'I have known the team at Imagination for several years and I am delighted that the opportunity has come to work with them,' adds Dr. Black, again not mentioning exactly why he came to be looking for a new job in the first place. 'Imagination has put in place an exciting and ambitious strategy, both to capitalise on disruptions in key markets and territories, and to show why it has led for so many years in GPU. The value Imagination brings to our customers in GPU, AI, and connectivity is the basis of its position as a world leading independent IP supplier. I am going to ensure that both Imagination and its partners can reap the full potential of our ground-breaking IP.'

Dr. Li is to step down as chief executive, and as chair of the Global Semiconductor Alliance, later this month in order to launch an independent system-on-chip (SoC) company.


An earlier version of this article stated that Imagination had sold its Ensigma DSP subsidiary; the company did seek a buyer for Ensigma in May 2017, but did not complete the sale.

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October 14 2021 | 15:04