Sanjay Jha, co-CEO, Motorola
What makes him powerful: One year ago, Motorola's financial situation and the future of the company's handset business looked about as bleak as possible. Many industry-watchers, including FierceWireless, predicted that Motorola's handset business would not survive for long. The fate of the mobile devices division rested on the shoulders of Sanjay Jha, who had been lured away from Qualcomm to try and turn around the business. Amid the financial industry's meltdown, Jha made a bold bet: Motorola would throw its support behind Google's Android platform, which, at that point was a relatively unknown operating system. Jha said Motorola would unveil its first Android phone in time for the 2009 holiday shopping season.
It was a risky move for an executive who has just taken over a few months before, but Jha remained confident that Motorola could differentiate its Android offerings.
The payoff came in September, when Jha took center stage in San Francisco at the GigaOM Mobilize conference to debut Motorola's first Android-based device, the Motorola Cliq. The Cliq, which T-Mobile has launched, features MotoBLUR, the company's new user interface, which allows users to synch their various social networking activities. For example, a user can post one status update across a range of social networking services. Another widget allows users to see messages from various sources--including emails, text messages and social networking messages--on the home screen. The user interface won more praise than the actual device, but the Cliq signaled that Motorola was going to be able to deliver a solid Android device.
And T-Mobile is just the beginning. Motorola sits at the center of Verizon Wireless' major "Droid" campaign, whereby Verizon is positioning Motorola's second Android device as a direct competitor to Apple's iPhone. It's a risky gambit, but Verizon's vote of confidence in Motorola is another signal that the company is on the upswing.
Of course, Motorola is not out of the woods yet. It remains to be seen how consumers respond to the company's Android phones. But Jha has certainly helped Motorola get back on track. --Phil