Qualcomm President and COO Steve Mollenkopf will take over the CEO role on March 4 of next year, replacing the chipmaker's current CEO Paul Jacobs, who will stay on as executive chairman, the company announced Friday.
Mollenkopf has been with Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM) for nearly 20 years, holding leadership roles in the company's chipset division. He was key in securing Qualcomm's biggest acquisition ever, the $3.1 billion purchase of Atheros, and in helping it became the world's largest mobile chipset supplier. He becomes the CEO-elect, effective yesterday, but will take over official duties in March following the company's annual shareholder meeting. (See Qualcomm Buys Atheros.)
The timing of the appointment is peculiar: As recently as 12 hours ago, Mollenkopf had been cited as a potential candidate for Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)'s chief executive position. (See Will Elop Return Without the Crown?)
Jacobs has served as CEO of Qualcomm for the past nine years. As chairman, the company says he will continue to guide the development of new technologies and long-term opportunities. That might include the company's Toq smartwatch, which he said in September was his pet project. (See Watch Out! Qualcomm's Got a Wearable Device and Qualcomm to Offer Toq Smartwatch.)
Under Jacobs's tenure, the company has become the leader in LTE chipsets. Its Snapdragon 800 is the first to support global roaming and LTE-Advanced carrier aggregation, and, earlier this week, it introduced the Snapdragon 410 processor, which will bring LTE to sub-$150 smartphones in emerging markets. (See New iPhones Use Old Qualcomm LTE Chips and LG's G2 Is Ready for LTE-Advanced.)
— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading