Samsung creates a group dedicated to inventing whatever comes next
Exec who led memory and battery businesses to global dominance gets the job of defining Chaebol's future
Samsung Electronics has established a "Future Business Planning Group" to figure out what's next for the manufacturing giant.
Announced on Monday by Samsung's Korean HQ, the future-focused unit has been given the job of discovering "new businesses that are not an extension of the existing business, thereby laying the foundation for pioneering new business areas."
Vice chairman Jeon Young-hyun, who leads Samsung's display unit, scored the gig as president of the futuristic group, with his appointment billed as a "Bold 'young leader' selection" – at least by machine translation of the group's announcement.
No expectations for the group have been made public. Nor has Samsung told the world when it wants its putative future to arrive.
Also unknown is whether the instruction that the group will have nothing to do with Samsung's existing ops precludes re-using existing Samsung assets. Doing without them appears foolish: the Linux-based Tizen operating system alone clearly has a potential role in almost anything electronic.
It's not hard to see why Samsung wants to imagine a new future: it owns nearly 30 percent of the global television market, a quarter of the smartphone market, 40 percent of the DRAM market, and almost a fifth of the home appliances market.
Other fields it plays in, like PCs and processors, feature giant incumbents that would be hard to overtake.
The future plan was announced alongside Samsung Electronics's slate of execs to take on 2024. The Chaebol often shuffles the deckchairs on an annual basis. This year it's stuck with co-CEOs Han Jong-hee and Kyung Kye-hyun.
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Yong Seok-woo, previously veep of several divisions, was promoted to president of the Visual Display and Device eXperience (DX) divisions. The latter was established in 2021 to create "new and meaningful experiences for customers" – a task that Samsung pitched as an indication of its "longer-term future-oriented business structure."
Clearly, Samsung wants a different vision of its future.
Kim Won-kyung was made president and head of global public affairs – a promotion.
Samsung retained the chairs of its battery business, Device eXperience outfit, and the Device Solutions team that oversees memory-making. Keeping the three execs in place was pitched as a move to ensure stability in uncertain times, as was the decision to continue with a pair of co-CEOs.
Stability will certainly be welcome at Samsung, given that two weeks ago vice-chair Jay Y Lee appeared in court to answer allegations of stock price manipulation and fraud regarding a 2015 merger of company assets. The matter goes to trial in early 2024 and prosecutors want a five-year jail sentence.
Lee has already been found guilty of bribery, and pardoned on grounds the Samsung scion's ongoing involvement in the biz is good for South Korea's entire economy. ®