Steven Mollenkopf, CEO of Qualcomm
Mike Blake | Reuters
Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf is retiring and will be succeeded by chipmaker’s president, Cristiano Amon, on June 30, the company announced Tuesday.
The move by the 52-year-old Mollenkopf comes at a high point for the San Diego company, which is the biggest maker of cellular-connected chips and stands to benefit as more phones connect to 5G networks.
The company recently emerged from a thicket of challenges including business model scrutiny from the Federal Trade Commission, a legal battle with Apple, and a hostile takeover attempt from rival Broadcom.
Since 2014, when Mollenkopf became CEO, Qualcomm stock has gained 96.7%, with an increase of 71.7% in the last year.
“Steve navigated through unprecedented circumstances during his tenure, facing more in his seven years as CEO than most leaders face in their entire careers,” Qualcomm Chair Mark McLaughlin said in a statement.
Qualcomm fought off legal issues with Apple and the FTC during Mollenkopf’s tenure. In 2019, it settled a lawsuit with Apple that questioned its business model of selling both chips and licenses for wireless technology. Apple paid Qualcomm $4.5 billion and Apple’s iPhone 12 uses Qualcomm’s 5G chips.
In August, Qualcomm scored a decisive victory in its battle with the FTC when a federal appeals court ruled that Qualcomm’s business practices weren’t anti-competitive, largely ending a saga that saw Qualcomm’s core business model under scrutiny from regulators around the world.
In 2018, Qualcomm received an unsolicited merger offer from Broadcom, a competing semiconductor maker that was based in Singapore at the time. The deal, which would have valued the combination at $117 billion, was scuttled by President Donald Trump, who cited national security concerns in blocking it.
Amon, 50, came up through the company’s mobile chip division, and has been second-in-command as president since 2018. Qualcomm said in November that it plans to ship 500 million mobile chips with 5G in 2021.