Acer's executive suite may be in for a major shake-up. It began with the sudden resignation of CEO and President Gianfranco Lanci, who resigned Thursday. There's no transition period, no formal handing over the baton. His resignation is effective immediately and comes in the wake of boardroom drama.
According to the official Acer announcement, Lanci disagreed with the board about the future of the company -- and it turns out his resignation wasn't so sudden. The power struggles just didn't leak to the media. Acer said Lanci and the board could not reach a consensus after several months of dialog.
Specifically, each side of the table put a different level of importance on scale, growth, customer value creation, brand-position enhancement, and resource allocation and methods of implementation. From the sound of it, Lanci and the board couldn't agree on anything.
Revenues are at the root of the problem. Indeed, Acer's anticipated first-quarter earnings may have escalated the drama as the company announced its results will be much worse than forecast. Acer expects a 10 percent decline in revenue compared to the previous quarter. Acer initially predicted a three percent increase. Acer also missed its revenue marks in the fourth quarter of 2010.
"The personal computer remains the core of our business. We have built up a strong foundation and will continue to expand within, especially in the commercial PC segment. In addition, we are stepping into the new mobile-device market, where we will invest cautiously and aim to become one of the leading players," said Acer Chairman J.T. Wang. "In this new ICT industry, Acer needs a period of time for adjustment. With the spirit of entrepreneurship, we will face new challenges and look to the future with confidence."
Acer credited Lanci with significant contributions toward Acer's growth and wished him well in his future endeavors. Lanci could not be reached for comment. Wang will take on the role of interim CEO and has already started planning organizational and operational adjustments.
An Apple Victim
"Acer has been around for a long time, but really came out of nowhere and did quite well during the whole run-up to the netbook craze a couple of years ago," noted Charles King, principal analyst at Pund IT. "There has been some evidence that the success of tablet devices has actually taken a bigger bite out of the netbook market than it has the traditional notebook and PC market."
As King sees it, Acer's revenue declines and Lanci's subsequent resignation may be an example of what happens when a market disrupter has its own business model disrupted by something new. In this case, Acer seems to be one of the victims of Apple's iPad.
"Trying to compete against the iPad is something quite a few companies have had trouble with," King said. "But this gentleman may be the first of many victims falling under Apple's wheels."