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Gateway’s Waitt Steps Down

Irvine, Calif. — Gateway’s chairman Ted Waitt announced his retirement today from the company he founded 20 years ago on an Iowa farm.

Waitt cited his desire to further pursue other business and philanthropic endeavors as the reason for his retirement. The news came during the company’s annual shareholder meeting and will go into effect immediately. Richard Snyder, a long-time Gateway board member, will take over as chairman. Snyder is CEO of Ardesta LLC, Ann Arbor, Mich., a company focused on bringing small tech products to the global marketplace.

Janet M. Clarke will replace Snyder on the board as an independent director. She is president and founder of Clarke Littlefield LLC, a firm providing strategic advice to larger companies.

Waitt’s ride at Gateway has been tumultuous. After leading the company and its well-known cowhide-box brand into a leadership position in the PC industry in the early 1990s, he gave up his CEO title in 2000, handing it over to Jeff Weitzen. This arrangement was short lived, and he reclaimed his old slot just over a year later when Weitzen left the company. Weitzen’s reign coincided with the massive industry falloff in consumer PC sales that took place leading into the dot-com bubble burst and Y2K worries. During this period Gateway stock value was more than halved.

Waitt has since led the company through several reorganizations that included boosting the number of Gateway Country retail stores to almost 300 in 2002, a huge plunge into the consumer electronics market in 2003 coinciding with a revamp of the entire store chain to better sell CE and the purchase of entry-level PC maker eMachines in 2004. The first three projects were failures as the company shuttered all its stores last year and dropped almost all CE merchandise from its product mix.

With the closing of the eMachines merger last spring, Waitt again handed over direct control of Gateway, this time to Wayne Inouye, CEO of eMachines and a former Best Buy executive.