Paul Jacobs, chairman and CEO, Qualcomm
What makes him powerful: Paul Jacobs has stepped out of the shadow of his father, Irwin, Qualcomm's co-founder, and in many respects has broken with the past. The company continues to lead in the CDMA chip market and also continues to rake in revenue by licensing its patents. However, in the past year, Jacobs has positioned the company to take advantage of the always-on wireless world, and also decided to settle long-running legal disputes with both Nokia and Broadcom.
Jacobs has made bold moves during a time when the chip market has been unsettled by the recession and destabilized inventories. He forged a partnership with Nokia, once a longtime enemy, collaborating on next-generation, Symbian-based devices initially for the North American market. In a separate, landmark deal, the company also decided to settle of all of its litigation with Broadcom, and chose to pay Broadcom $891 million over the next four years to close down the protracted litigation between the two chip makers.
Further, Jacobs also has been leading the push behind smartbooks, which Qualcomm hopes will become a new device category, and other devices that could run the company's shiny new Snapdragon processor.
Although Qualcomm has been roughed up by antitrust fines in South Korea and an antitrust probe by regulators in Japan, Jacobs still shines as a leader and pioneer in the wireless space. Many expect the next big frontier for wireless to be in vertical markets, like healthcare and utilities and other non-traditional sectors, and naturally Qualcomm has a focus there as well. Thus, Jacobs appears well positioned to extend Qualcomm's status as a wireless heavyweight. --Phil