“We are in a hurry.” A new CEO is struggling to cope with the global chip crisis.

A few months before Cristiano Amon took over as Qualcomm’s CEO. Inc.,

He was already working on his first crisis. To address this, he sat in a mostly empty meeting room in Taipei and begged the world’s largest semiconductor maker for more chips.

It needed help so that Qualcomm, a circuit designer who goes into millions of electronic devices each year, could pursue new markets and meet the demands of large consumers such as Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics. include.

And China’s top handset makers. In fact, he needed help so much that he was allowed to come by the Taiwanese government in March and then wait three days for a quarantine. Once he and his team arrived at a meeting place in a hotel in Taipei, they talked to their counterparts in a large room with a microphone and speaker.

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

Many new CEOs in the business world have had to adjust their roles amid unprecedented epidemic restrictions, get to know key employees without meeting them in person, and handle office and business relationships remotely. Few people can say that he had a more tumultuous transition than Mr. Amon, a Brazilian graduate who enjoys personal contact.

Trying to seal a company after working there for more than two decades, he is challenging a bunch of big challenges. He wants to focus on moving beyond Qualcomm’s core mobile phone chip business, a change he began before taking office.

“I’ve been doing a lot of work in parallel and I want to succeed in all of that,” he said in an interview. “I can’t afford not to do them because we’re in a hurry.”

View of the Qualcomm device taken in 2019.


Image:

John Francis Peters for the Wall Street Journal.

The jury is on Mr. Amon’s youth. Qualcomm’s stock fell to 7 127.84 by the end of Thursday, the day it was announced as the next CEO, from about 2 152. Serene Pajuri, an analyst at SMBC Nico Securities USA, said investors were worried about how long the company could benefit from calling the superfast, next-generation wireless standard 5G, and whether Apple would own it. Mobile phones will start making communication chips.

Mr. Amon’s acquisition of new markets is the right strategy, said Jeffrey Helfarch, portfolio manager at Defas-based Pan Davis McFarland, one of its largest holdings. But he said the company needs to stay on top of technology and avoid the return of old Big Bears, including a legal battle with Apple in which royalties are collected on innovations in smartphone technology. Qualcomm and Apple settled the dispute in 2019.

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

A short honeymoon.

Mr Amon, an electrical engineering graduate of the Universidad Estadol de Campinas outside Sao Paulo, worked for multinational telecom companies in Brazil and twice in 1995 and then in 2004 for Qualcomm. The 51-year-old father of three was one. The rising star in the company for years, became president in 2018.

Qualcomm was founded in 1985 by a group of engineers led by Aaron Jacobs, who became its first CEO. His son Paul took over and handed over the reins to Steve Mullenkov in 2014. Mr Molenkov, known for his particular conduct, saw the company in lawsuits, a no-confidence motion and a hostile takeover attempt by rival chipmaker Broadcom. Inc.

Irwin Jacobs, right, was one of the founders of Qualcomm and became its first CEO. Her picture is here in 2004.


Image:

Donna McWilliam / Associated Press

Mr Amon disagrees with Mr Molenkov, who retired in June. His outgoing style is perfect for pleasing new customers and finding new businesses. Mr Amon shook the company’s management to help with the change, which brought in about 20 new executives. He said the group includes people with a background in cloud computing, personal computers and auto technology.

He did not have enough time for a job. Shortly before receiving approval, he competed with Cove 19, which he signed around Christmas. Once he recovered, he resumed globetrotting to stay ahead of a chip-supply crisis that pushed up the price of electronics and disrupted the production of everything from cars to home appliances to PCs. Created

The shortfall, which she predicts will be reduced in the first half of 2022, will put Qualcomm in a difficult position. While the company designs communication and data processing chips, it relies on others to manufacture them, which means it does not have complete control over its own destiny. Manufacturing ability is key to Mr. Amon’s long-term desire to acquire more Qualcomm chips in automobiles, drones and other devices.

One of Mr. Amon’s first stops after the Corner Office name was South Korea, followed by a trip to Taiwan in March and then back to South Korea in May. They are home to some of the world’s largest chip makers and major Qualcomm suppliers, including South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Company and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing. include.

Before he could get a top job, Mr. Amon used to visit these places frequently to meet with industrial partners. But epidemics and a lack of global silence have made this year’s journey unfamiliar. Everywhere he went, he was subjected to the same harsh anti-cue measures, from a government escort airport in Taiwan to a government-approved hotel he could not leave. When in Taiwan, Mr. Amon usually landed at the original location of the famous Dum Sim restaurant, Din Tai Fung. Cowade ended the ritual.

‘Pressure cooker’

Qualcomm is also seeking a larger share of the cell phone chip market in China. The war escalated after US sanctions on Huawei Technologies last year crippled the Chinese telecommunications giant. Huawei has built many of its own chips, while the companies are trying to increase the market share gained from Qualcomm and its competitors.

To encourage suppliers to increase Qualcomm’s manufacturing capacity, Mr. Amon took extraordinary steps in the industry, agreed to advance payments for supplies and entered into agreements that are longer than usual. Mr Amon said he felt the heat on Qualcomm’s customers who are worried about the lack of a chip, even from consumers of its products who do not buy directly from the company.

“I can’t find any customers that we are not putting pressure on directly or indirectly,” he said. “It’s a pressure cooker right now.”

A Qualcomm production lab in San Diego, from 2019.


Image:

John Francis Peters for the Wall Street Journal.

Mr Amon met or spoke with a number of defense contractors, CEOs of industrial companies and automakers. He signed a deal with French carmaker Renault. TO

Installing Qualcomm chips in an incoming electric car.

“When he came to power, people advised him to stay away from a long-term strategy as soon as possible,” he said. But he decided to present a detailed five-year plan to all Qualcomm employees anyway during a three-hour presentation this summer. He wanted to encourage employees to find out how their work met the company’s goals.

The idea behind advancing Qualcomm’s auto industry is that more car makers now use semiconductors in their dashboard displays, driver assistance features and other applications.

The strategy came as the biggest surprise as Mr. Amon’s CEO – a multi-billion dollar takeover bid for an auto technology company that allows sensors to play a greater role in driving computers. He wanted to snatch the company, Sweden’s Wenner. Inc.,

From a competitive bidder.

Qualcomm had already partnered with Weiner to work on a self-driving system, but Weiner’s management wanted a buyer who would give it enough to compete with Tesla’s choice. Inc.

And Intel Corporations

Mobileye, a subsidiary of Driving Tech. When the Canadian automotive company Magna International. Inc.

In July, Weiner offered 3.8 billion in cash to acquire, threatening Qualcomm’s self-driving strategy.

View of a new autonomous driving computing system, taken in 2020.


Image:

Jane Lenny Lee / Reuters

Mr Amon first sought to buy a ون 2 billion stake in Salon Driving Partnership, and then increased the offer to 2.5 2.5 billion in July. Weiner’s CEO instead asked Qualcomm to bid for the entire company. In August, Mr Amon made an offer of 4.6 billion, and this month the Swedish company accepted the bid, which Qualcomm partnered with an investment firm.

The deal marks a difficult start to Mr Amon’s tenure as CEO. One thing Mr. Amon laments about his first few months is how little time he has. “I have a shortage of chips and a lack of time,” he said. “We are in a hurry. We have a lot of things. We have to diversify and change Qualcomm and there is not much time.

Reforms and reforms
Veoneer Inc. is the name of a Swedish company that makes sensors to play a greater role in driving a computer. The first version of this article incorrectly states that the company name was Venoeer in one instance. (Accessed October 8)

Write to Asa Fitch at asa.fitch@wsj.com.

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