What makes him powerful: Yoon-Woo Lee is a Samsung lifer. Lee joined Samsung in 1968, and was appointed president of Samsung's Semiconductor Business in 1996. In 2004, he was promoted to the position of vice chairman of the Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology, and in 2008 he ascended to the CEO position.
Thus, Lee has witnessed firsthand Samsung's gradual rise into the pinnacles of the consumer electronics industry. He wields an enormous amount of power--largely due to the incredibly long reach of Samsung.
Indeed, Samsung is best known in wireless as the world's second-largest handset vendor in terms of volumes, but that's just a small slice of Samsung's full scope. The company makes screens, chipsets and other components for a range of handset makers including HTC, it sells network equipment including base stations and other kit to network operators like Clearwire (NASDAQ:CLWR), and it sells Flash memory to the likes of Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and others. Those activities--coupled with Samsung's other businesses that stretch from TVs to refrigerators--create an electronics powerhouse largely unrivaled in modern business.
Further, Samsung has shown a rabid willingness to chase hot trends. Years ago, the company challenged Motorola's (NYSE:MOT) Razr with a wide range of super-slim phones. Now, Samsung is attempting the same movement with its iPad rival, the GalaxyTab tablet. Indeed, Samsung's efforts in smartphones alone are noteworthy: The company in the third quarter said it shipped around 7 million of its Android-powered Galaxy S smartphones, and that the device has been launched by more than 90 carriers worldwide (including all four Tier 1 U.S. carriers).
When Samsung makes a strategic play, the world takes note. --Mike