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Rambus Fires Chief Executive Officer for Unspecified Conduct

Rambus fired Ron Black as chief executive officer on Thursday for conduct that fell short of the company’s standards. The Sunnyvale, California-based maker of memory and hardware security technology is filling the job with Luc Seraphin, senior vice president of the company’s memory and interfaces business unit, until the board of directors appoints a permanent replacement.

Rambus stressed that the firing was the result of improper conduct. But the company did not say specifically what Black did to warrant his removal. “The termination follows an incident unrelated to the company’s financial and business performance,” Rambus said in a statement. Black had served as chief executive officer since 2012 and was under contract until 2022.

Under Black, Rambus moved to resolve a series of patent lawsuits that accused some of the world’s largest memory manufacturers, including Micron Technology and Samsung Electronics, of stealing its technology. The lawsuits have plunged it into controversy over the years. The company was even accused of antitrust violations by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, which was looking into whether Rambus unfairly expanded the scope of its patent claims.  The company’s revenue has jumped in recent years as the legal battles have wound down. 

Seraphin is stepping into the position as Rambus looks for Black’s replacement. He is holding onto his role as head of the memory and interfaces division, which is focused on memory architectures and high-speed serial interfaces. Seraphin was previously in charge of worldwide sales and operations for the company, which named director Chuck Kissner as vice chairman on Thursday to support him during the search.

The firing follows another recent departure in the semiconductor industry. Brian Krzanch stepped down as Intel's chief executive after the revelation of a consensual relationship with another employee. Intel said that he had violated the company’s “non-fraternization” policy. Krzanich was replaced on a temporary basis by Robert Swan, Intel’s chief financial officer. Krzanich also resigned from Intel's board of directors.

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