Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf retiring, sceptre passes to president Cristiano Amon

So long, and thanks for all the fish

Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf will step down later this year, handing control of the company to current president Cristiano Amon.

Mollenkopf, 52, will enter retirement on 30 June after a 26-year tenure at Qualcomm that saw him climb the corporate ladder from lowly engineer to chief exec. He will continue to serve as a strategic advisor for an unspecified period of time following his departure.

The outgoing chief was sworn in as CEO in March 2014. During his seven years at the helm, he steered Qualcomm through a hostile takeover attempt by Broadcom, a billion-dollar patent lawsuit with Apple, a separate patent dispute with Huawei, and an attempt by activist investor Jana Partners to break up the business into separate units covering chipmaking and technology licensing.

That said, Mollenkopf didn't really help to move the revenue dial northwards during his time at the top. Qualcomm turned over $26.48bn in sales in fiscal 2014 – six months after the CEO took the reins – and it turned over $23.53bn in fiscal 2020. This didn't seem to dampen investors' appetite and the share price has more than doubled during Mollenkopf's tenure.

Amon has a similarly long track record at Qualcomm, joining in 1995 as an engineer. Since being promoted to the role of president, he has taken responsibility for the firm's semiconductor business, drawing up the product roadmap, and taking charge in mergers. He has become the public face of the company, introducing new products including the Snapdragon 888 platform.

In a prepared statement, Amon said: "In addition to driving the expansion of 5G into mainstream devices and beyond mobile, Qualcomm is set to play a key role in the digital transformation of numerous industries as our technologies become essential to connecting everything to the cloud."

Speaking to El Reg, Geoff Blaber, vice president of research at analyst CCS Insight, described Amon as a "natural successor".

"[He] assumes the position at a logical time with 5G starting to deliver on its promise and with an array of licensing and regulatory challenges having been navigated by Steve Mollenkopf.

He said Amon has been "central in growing and diversifying Qualcomm's business. With Qualcomm's priorities and challenges likely to take a very different form in the coming years, Mr Amon has shown he is well suited to lead Qualcomm's expansion from smartphone company to provider of connectivity, intelligence and computing platforms for everything from audio to automotive."

These sentiments were echoed by PP Foresight analyst Paolo Pescatore, who described Amon as "a worthy and obvious successor".

He said it has been a "turbulent few years" for Qualcomm but it's well placed as "industries transform and companies seek to connect with users in different ways" using next-generation mobile and wireless tech. ®

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