What makes him powerful: Motorola's (NYSE:MOT) handset unit is one of the remarkable turnaround stories of the year, and in large part it's due to the tenacious focus and bold moves by the company's co-CEO Sanjay Jha.
Jha helped position Motorola's Droid as the flagship phone for Verizon Wireless' (NYSE:VZ) initial Android push. He also has lined up AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T), Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) and T-Mobile USA to offer Motorola Android devices as well. So far Motorola has released 22 phones this year, with more coming in the fourth quarter, exceeding Jha's prediction of 20 handsets in 2010.
Jha also positioned Motorola's handset and set-top box divisions for a strong start when they spin off as an independent, publicly traded company called Motorola Mobility in early 2011. The separation is expected to take place in the first quarter of next year, and Jha will run Motorola Mobility. Jha gets kudos for securing $3.5 billion for the new company and getting rid of Motorola Mobility's debt.
Under Jha Motorola has also improved the handset unit's financial results. The division grew its smartphone shipments and narrowed its operating loss in each of the first three quarters of this year, and Jha got the handset unit back to profitability (on a non-GAAP basis) one quarter ahead of schedule.
However, it has not all been smooth sailing for Motorola this year. As it refocused its efforts on smartphones, the company's total handset volumes dropped. Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) kicked Motorola out of the top five global handset maker listings in the second quarter, a position Motorola had held for years.
But perhaps the most exciting aspect of Jha's leadership of Motorola is what's still ahead. Jha has hinted that Motorola will release an Android tablet and products that combine aspects of the smartphone business and set-top box unit in the coming year. --Phil