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Micron Technology says CEO Mark Durcan plans to retire; search for successor begins

Micron Technology, Inc. CEO Mark Durcan addresses a large crowd at Taco Bell Arena during the "M Power '14" event for Micron employees.
Micron Technology, Inc. CEO Mark Durcan addresses a large crowd at Taco Bell Arena during the "M Power '14" event for Micron employees. kgreen@idahostatesman.com

Mark Durcan, who became Micron Technology’s CEO just hours after previous CEO and board chairman Steve Appleton died in a plane crash in February 2012, is going to retire.

Micron Technology announced Durcan’s plans Thursday.

Durcan, 55, will continue as CEO while the company’s board of directors looks for a replacement. He was worked at Micron for 32 years.

A special board committee initiated a search for candidates.

Mark Durcan recently discussed with the board his desire to retire from Micron when the time and conditions were right for the company,” said Robert E. Switz, board chair and member of the search committee, said in a press release.

“As CEO, he has successfully guided Micron’s strategy and growth for the past five years and has allowed the company to initiate this transition from a position of strength.”

Micron stock closed at $24.79 Thursday, up 4 cents for the day.

Durcan was seen as a strong leader who people would follow when he was named CEO. A week before Appleton’s crash, Durcan, then Micron’s president and chief operating officer, announced that he planned step down as Micron’s second in command to spend time with his family.

That plan evaporated as he took the reins of Micron.

“That seemed like the best thing to do, because there is continuity there,” Durcan told the Statesman in 2012. “I knew the board supported me and we could continue moving forward.”

He faced a workforce at Micron that was fearful and in shock over Appleton’s death. Durcan met with team leaders, sent out a company memo and talked to people in the hallways after Appleton’s death — always, he said, with the same message: “We were going to have continuity, and that we would be all right and that (we had) a lot of good things going for us. And I would be willing and happy to stay on if that’s what the board wanted to do.”

Durcan quickly established his presence on the job. In a meeting with analysts in Scottsdale, Ariz., a week after Appleton’s death, he delivered a message: He was in charge and planned to stay.

“I can’t do anything half-assed,” he said at the time. “I’m not as good as Steve at some sports, but I’m a hard-nosed competitor. There is nothing interim about my role as CEO of Micron.”

As CEO, Durcan, an engineer and technology expert, worked with then-President Mark Adams to ensure a seamless transition after Appleton’s death, observers say.

Durcan is credited with carrying through on Micron’s plan to purchase Elpida Memory Inc., a bankrupt Japanese chip maker in 2013, that helped solidify Micron’s place in the computer memory chip world.

He also pushed the company to develop long-term business relationships that would provide companies with products in the automotive industry, for example, that positioned the company to become more than a memory chips maker.

Check back for updates on this breaking story.

‘He has successfully guided Micron’s strategy and growth’

Here’s the key part of Micron’s statement issued Thursday:

The Board of Directors has formed a special committee to oversee the succession process and has initiated a search, with the assistance of an executive search firm, to identify and vet candidates. The Board has not established a timeframe for this process and intends to conduct a deliberate review of candidates who can contribute to Micron’s future success.

Mark Durcan will continue to lead Micron as CEO during this process and will assist the company with its search and subsequent leadership transition.

“Mark Durcan recently discussed with the Board his desire to retire from Micron when the time and conditions were right for the company,” said Robert E. Switz, Chairman of the Board and a member of the search committee.

“As CEO, he has successfully guided Micron’s strategy and growth for the past five years and has allowed the company to initiate this transition from a position of strength. The Board is committed to thoughtful long-term succession planning and takes seriously its responsibility to maintain a high-caliber management team and to ensure successful executive leadership transition. We expect Mark to play an instrumental role in securing and transitioning his replacement.”

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