‘We’re in a Hurry.’ A new CEO scrambles to cope with a global chip crisis.


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Cristiano Amon is the new boss of Qualcomm Inc., a US tech giant that designs semiconductors. Their first task: to persuade companies to make more chips for them—and faster.

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Months before Cristiano Amon started as CEO of Qualcomm Inc., QCOM -1.01% He was already working on his first crisis. To solve this, he sat in a mostly empty meeting room in Taipei and requested executives from one of the world’s largest semiconductor manufacturers for more chips.

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They needed help so that Qualcomm, a designer of circuits that go into hundreds of millions of electronic devices each year, could pursue new markets and meet the demands of large customers such as Apple Inc. samsung Electronics company and China’s top handset manufacturer. In fact, he was so in need of aid that he received permission from the Taiwanese government to arrive in March and then waited through a three-day quarantine. Once he and his team arrived at the meeting place at a hotel in Taipei, they chatted with their counterparts in a large room fitted with microphones and speakers.

“I’m a huge believer that sometimes you have to meet people in person,” said Mr. Amon, who was named CEO in January and officially took over in June.

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Many new CEOs in the business world have had to reconcile their roles amid unprecedented pandemic-era restrictions, with key employees never meeting them in person and managing offices and business relationships remotely. Some might say he had a more tumultuous transition than Mr. Amon, a sociable Brazilian who enjoys person-to-person contact.

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He’s grappling with a slew of major challenges—a global chip shortage, a sudden shift in a key market, and an unexpected acquisition opportunity—while trying to put his stamp on a company he’s been working on after more than two decades. . He wants to focus on expanding beyond Qualcomm’s core mobile-phone chip business, a change that began before he took over.

“I am doing many things in parallel and I want to be successful in all of them,” he said in an interview. “I can’t afford not to do them because we’re in a hurry.”

The jury is out on Mr. Amon’s youth tenure. Qualcomm stock has fallen to $127.84 as of Thursday’s close, from about $152 the day he was announced as the next CEO. SMBC Nikko Securities Americas analyst Srini Pazuri said investors are concerned about how long the company could benefit from replacing the superfast, next-generation wireless standard in the form of 5G, and whether Apple will launch its own mobile-phone communications chips. will start making.

Mr. Amon’s exploration of new markets is the right strategy, said Jeffrey Helfrich, portfolio manager at Dallas-based Penn Davis McFarland, a firm with a Qualcomm stake that is one of its largest holdings. But he said the company needs to stay on top of technology and avoid a return to the old bugbear, including a legal battle with Apple over how royalties are collected on innovations in smartphone technology. Qualcomm and Apple settled that battle in 2019.

“Do you think their feud with Apple is over forever? I don’t,” he said.

To read more from The Wall Street Journal, Click here.

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