Mollenkopf Snags Qualcomm Helm, Likely Off Microsoft Short List

Cross one more name off the list of potential successors to Steve Ballmer’s throne at Microsoft. Steve Mollenkopf has been tapped as the new CEO of Qualcomm, likely ruling him out as a candidate for Redmond's top spot.

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[caption id="attachment_33577" align="alignright" width="300"]Steve Mollenkopf New Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf had been in the running for the job at Microsoft, according to sources.[/caption]

Cross one more name off the list of potential successors to Steve Ballmer’s throne at Microsoft Corp. One day after Bloomberg floated his name as a short list candidate for Redmond’s corner office, Steve Mollenkopf was named CEO of Qualcomm Inc.

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Mollenkopf, who had been COO at the world’s largest mobile chip maker, takes over for Dr. Paul E. Jacobs, son of Qualcomm co-founder Irwin Jacobs, who is transitioning to executive chairman, company officials said Friday.

Mollenkopf’s promotion, which smacks a bit of a pre-emptive strike by Qualcomm, likely rules him out as a candidate for the top spot at Microsoft. Bloomberg, yesterday, quoting sources familiar with the matter at Microsoft said Mollenkopf, 44, had risen to near the top of the short list because of his experience building “products that are at the heart of many of the world’s leading smartphones, an area where Microsoft is weak.”

Mollenkopf emerged late as one of a small number of outsiders considered serious contenders to take the reins at the software giant when current CEO Steve Ballmer retires next year. That list still includes Ford Motor Co. chief executive Alan Mulally, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, and of late, dark-horse entry Pat Gelsinger, former Intel Corp. CTO and current CEO of VMware Inc.

Microsoft insiders also under consideration reportedly include COO Kevin Turner, cloud and enterprise group chief Satya Nadella, BizDev EVP Tony Bates, and former Nokia CEO, now MS exec Stephen Elop.

"I am honored to have been chosen by the board to lead Qualcomm into the next exciting era of the Company," Mollenkopf said in a statement.  "Qualcomm's focus on execution in product and technology development has helped to establish us as a leader in wireless with our partners.

“I look forward to working with our executive team and our employees in driving growth for our Company and the entire mobile ecosystem as it transitions to 4G and beyond."

In his 20 years at the company, Mollenkopf has risen through the Qualcomm ranks to lead a number of units in the company. With Mollenkopf running the vendor’s flagship chipset business, Qualcomm rose to become the world's largest mobile chipset supplier and a global leader in LTE technology.  Mollenkopf also spearheaded the 2001 acquisition of Wi-Fi specialist  Atheros Communications Inc.. The $3.1 billion acquisition was the largest acquisition in Qualcomm history and helped move the company beyond cellular platforms.

"I want to congratulate Steve on his expanded role,” Jacobs said of his successor. “I have the utmost confidence in him and in the rest of the management team that they will continue to drive technical and business innovations, ensuring the growth and future of Qualcomm."

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