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SGI CEO morphs out

Tech firm taps Bishop after Belluzzo ankles

Just weeks after troubled f/x-related hardware maker SGI announced a major reorganization of its internal divisions, Richard Belluzzo unexpectedly ankled his post as CEO on Monday, to be immediately replaced by Robert Bishop, a board member and former executive.

Belluzzo, who joined SGI less than two years ago to oversee the company’s turnaround, resigned Monday to accept a “noncompetitive, non-CEO position with another company.” Details were unavailable.

However, during a conference call Monday, Bill Kelly, SGI’s senior veep of corporate operations said SGI moved swiftly to name a successor, because it felt the company “could not afford an extended period of interim leadership.”

Belluzzo’s departure comes at a critical time for Mountain View, Calif.-based SGI, formerly known as Silicon Graphics, which has struggled to compete with lower-priced computer makers and turn its high-end graphics computing technologies into commercial products.

Earlier this month, SGI said it would cut up to 17% of its work force, spin off divisions and focus on select markets — high-performance servers, visual computing products and broadband Internet computing product, in hopes of turning a profit by the end of the year.

SGI’s hardware is used by Hollywood major f/x companies. Company officials said it has no plans to exit that market.

Bishop said he will continue to support the reorganization efforts.

“Rick’s departure was a surprise to the company,” Kelly said. “It certainly was not anticipated. We wanted to preserve the momentum and get someone in as quickly as possible.”

Kelly said SGI has sought assurances from other top executives, including chief financial officer Steve Gomo, that they are committed to the company long term.

Bishop, an SGI board member and former executive with the company, was made the offer to take over Monday. No offers were made to other executives, officials said.

“I chose the job because it’s probably the most exciting challenge I’ve ever been faced with,” Bishop said. “I feel like I’ve trained for 35 years in preparation for it.”

Bishop joined SGI in 1986 and was responsible for building its international division, leaving in 1995. He joined the company’s board of directors in 1993.

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