Motorola Mobility: Westward, Ha!

Motorola appears ready to shift its Mobility headquarters to the West Coast once its spinoff is complete

Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms

September 16, 2010

3 Min Read
Motorola Mobility: Westward, Ha!

Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT)'s Mobility headquarters in Libertyville, Ill., will be making the move out West once the company completes its mobile devices spinoff in the first quarter of 2011, Light Reading Mobile sources say. But the company says if it does change headquarters locations, that won't necessarily mean that lots of jobs will leave Illinois.

There have been rumblings of a Moto moving its center of gravity to California ever since the spinoff was first announced over two years ago. Rumblings that have only grown louder following co-CEO Sanjay Jha's unconvincing assurances on analyst calls that Moto won't leave the Windy City. [Ed. note: We must note here that "Unconvincing Assurances" would be a great name for a designer fragrance.]

Jha has only ever committed to retaining "a presence" in Illinois, but has also said the unit should go where software talent grows on trees -- California. (See Moloney Saying Good-Bye to Moto, Moto Shuffles Ahead of Split , and Moto Wants to Do the Splits .)

"It is 100 percent confirmed they are moving headquarters," says Uki Dominque Lucas, head of Chicago Android, a training and development community started by Motorola employees.

A Motorola spokeswoman says the company has been investigating potential new locations for its headquarters. "Illinois is very important to Motorola and today the company employs more than 10,000 people in the greater Chicago-area," she said in an email response to questions. Sources estimate that there are some 4,000 people employed by Motorola in Libertyville. But the spokeswoman notes that if the company decides to relocate after the spinoff, it will affect fewer than 200 people.

Lucas says that much of Moto's mobile software development is already occurring on the West Coast, although employment in Illinois hasn't been drastically effected save some departmental restructuring.

In sizing up Moto Mobility's plans, it appears that California is important to Moto, but the company hasn't abandoned Illinois, either:

  • Motorola's job boards show it is hiring slightly more people -- around 89 -- throughout California (47 in Sunnyvale), and only 67 in Libertyville.

  • Moto's recent acquisition of San Francisco's 280 North, a software developer, and today's purchase of Aloqa, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based software maker, are intriguing moves. Lucas says that Moto's appetite for developers that have already built Android apps is growing. (See Motorola Acquires Aloqa.)

  • Motorola Mobility has this week switched things up on the PR front, selecting Weber Shandwick as the PR agency for the division. The work will be spread across the Sunnyvale and Chicago offices, says a Weber Shandwick employee.

  • And, let's not forget that co-CEO Sanjay Jha remains a resident of San Diego. One analyst source tells Light Reading that a few of Jha's direct reports have made the move to California too.

    The heart of the matter for Motorola is that it is a hardware company to the core, and it's fighting to survive in world where software innovation is separating the winners and losers. It has gotten serious about its focus on Android, and likely will ramp up its activities on the West Coast without completely forgetting its Silicon Prairie roots.

    — Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

About the Author(s)

Sarah Thomas

Director, Women in Comms

Sarah Thomas's love affair with communications began in 2003 when she bought her first cellphone, a pink RAZR, which she duly "bedazzled" with the help of superglue and her dad.

She joined the editorial staff at Light Reading in 2010 and has been covering mobile technologies ever since. Sarah got her start covering telecom in 2007 at Telephony, later Connected Planet, may it rest in peace. Her non-telecom work experience includes a brief foray into public relations at Fleishman-Hillard (her cussin' upset the clients) and a hodge-podge of internships, including spells at Ingram's (Kansas City's business magazine), American Spa magazine (where she was Chief Hot-Tub Correspondent), and the tweens' quiz bible, QuizFest, in NYC.

As Editorial Operations Director, a role she took on in January 2015, Sarah is responsible for the day-to-day management of the non-news content elements on Light Reading.

Sarah received her Bachelor's in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She lives in Chicago with her 3DTV, her iPad and a drawer full of smartphone cords.

Away from the world of telecom journalism, Sarah likes to dabble in monster truck racing, becoming part of Team Bigfoot in 2009.

Subscribe and receive the latest news from the industry.
Join 62,000+ members. Yes it's completely free.

You May Also Like