Mobile chip giant Qualcomm has promoted Chief Operating Officer Steve Mollenkopf to chief executive, starting in March. The move ends speculation that he was in the running to be the replacement for Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.
The announcement that Mollenkopf will replace current CEO Paul Jacobs, the 51-year-old son of Qualcomm cofounder Irwin Jacobs, came just a day after news surfaced that Mollenkopf was a candidate to replace Ballmer, who will be stepping down soon.
“With today’s announcement, we enable a smooth transition to a proven executive in Steve Mollenkopf, while providing for ongoing executive guidance and board-level leadership from Paul Jacobs,” said Sherry Lansing, presiding director of Qualcomm’s board. “We have the highest degree of confidence that his leadership will further expand Qualcomm’s impressive record of innovation and continued stockholder value creation.”
Mollenkopf, 41, will take over a company that has become the world’s largest maker of smartphone chips, fending off large and established rivals like Intel, Broadcom, Marvell, and Nvidia. He has spent almost 20 years at Qualcomm and led the chip set business to record growth. He played a role in acquiring Atheros, the Wi-Fi chip maker, for $3.1 billion in 2011. He’s an engineer at heart.
Paul Jacobs became CEO in 2005, taking over from his father Irwin, who pioneered code division multiple access (CDMA) technology that enabled the modern smartphone infrastructure. A big portion of Qualcomm’s profits come from license revenues from CDMA patents.
But not everything is rosy. China’s economic planning agency has launched an antitrust investigation against Qualcomm. Qualcomm denies wrongdoing. Half of the company’s revenue comes from China.