The world tilted, Sir Hossein Yassaie steps down

Posted: 02.16.16

Creator of the GPU IP industry, Sir Hossein Yassaie passes the baton

Sir Dr. Hossein Yassaie has stepped down as Chief Executive of Imagination Technologies, and Andrew Heath, one of the non-executive directors, has been appointed Interim Chief Executive. 

Imagination is also announcing details on restructuring initiatives. These include the sale of Pure, its consumer electronics business, and the expectation at this stage that The group expects to reduce total operating costs of its on-going businesses by £15 million in the next financial year ending April 2017, with a modest impact in the current financial year. Of this, £2 million will be re-invested in PowerVR, further strengthening the Group’s flagship multimedia product. 

The group believes there are potentially more appropriate owners for Pure, given the economies of scale in the consumer electronics market, who will be able to leverage its leading technologies and brand. Imagination will treat the Pure division as a discontinued operation with immediate effect. Imagination will also initiate a full operational review, including all R&D expenditure. This review, which is expected to last several months, will ensure investment is focused on core activities that are set to deliver attractive returns. 

What do we think? 

Yassaie has left Imagination after 18 years as chief executive,. He has been our friend for longer than that, and it is correct to say the company (or “the group,” as they like to call themselves) will not be the same. Hopefully it will be OK, but it certainly won’t in my opinion be better. 

SIR DR. Hossein Yassaie. 

Granted, the Pure product didn’t fit well with the company’s main efforts or strengths; although it helped Imagination to become number one digital radio IP supplier, it became a cash and man-agement drain. Imagination would not be the first, nor the last, to have some structural problems (look at Intel or AMD, or Nvidia’s abandonment of modems, or Qualcomm’s sell-offs). 
I think the investors got impatient with Hossein’s timetable amidst a major industry downturn; he did have a plan to spin off Pure after the refocusing that started a year ago. And all the other actions the company has taken, including the £15 million cost-reduction restructuring, emanated from his plan. However, he choose to step down as the alternative of a full-blown public row with some investors and a board disagreement that would have damaged the very thing he cared the most about: the people and the company. 

Hossein was born in Iran and moved to the U.K. in 1976, where he became a professor at University of Birmingham. He joined STMicroelectronics/Inmos, setting up and managing the DSP and digital video developments. I met him in 1992, when he joined Video Logic. That was the year Martin Ashton developed the tiling approach for a graphics processor, two years before Chappell Hills’ famous Pixel Flow machine was lit up, and four years before Microsoft’s Talisman. The concept came from flight simulator design Ashton developed.