Qualcomm’s longtime CEO Steve Mollenkopf plans to retire on June 30, 2021, and the company’s board of directors has selected Cristiano Amon as the next CEO.
Amon, 50, has worked at Qualcomm since 1995 when he joined the company as an engineer. In January 2018 he became president of the company. Amon holds a B.S. in electrical engineering and an honorary doctorate from UNICAMP, the State University of Campinas, Brazil. He also serves as the co-chairman of the World Economic Forum IoT Council.
Amon has been the most visible executive at Qualcomm in recent years, frequently speaking at industry events on behalf of the company. Wells Fargo analyst Gary Mobley said investors shouldn’t expect any “momentous” change in company strategy with the new CEO.
In his new role, Amon plans to drive the expansion of 5G into mainstream devices and beyond mobile and he sees Qualcomm playing a role in the digital transformation of numerous industries as they connect to the cloud. “I look forward to working with our 41,000 employees around the world to create technologies that revolutionize the way people live, work and connect with each other,” said Amon in a statement.
Mark McLaughlin, Qualcomm’s chairman of the board, said, “Cristiano was the clear choice to be Qualcomm’s next CEO, having the track record of successful execution, deep company knowledge, very strong relationships with our ecosystem of partners and the strategic vision to take the company forward.”
Mollenkopf, 52, has been with Qualcomm since 1994, also beginning his career as an engineer. He became CEO in March 2014, and has been instrumental in the company’s rise as a smartphone technology supplier. He will stay with the company as a strategic advisor for a period of time.
In a statement, Mollenkopf credited Amon with spearheading Qualcomm’s 5G strategy and its expansion beyond mobile into new industry segments such as automotive, RF front-end and IoT.
Just yesterday, Qualcomm announced that it was putting 5G capabilities into its cheaper chipsets. The new Snapdragon 480 5G mobile chipset aims to make 5G smartphones accessible to more people around the world at an affordable price. The first commercial devices based on Snapdragon 480 are expected in early 2021. Qualcomm is working with device makers including HMD Global, OnePlus, Oppo and Vivo to incorporate the 480 chips into their devices.
According to Counterpoint Research, Qualcomm was the biggest 5G chipset vendor in Q3 2020. It powered 39% of the 5G phones sold worldwide. The demand for 5G smartphones doubled in Q3 2020 with 17% of all smartphones sold in quarter being 5G.
However, Qualcomm is seeing competition from Taiwan-based MediaTek, which became the biggest overall smartphone chipset vendor in the world with 31% market share in Q3 2020, compared to Qualcomm's 29% market share, according to Counterpoint estimates. MediaTek’s strong performance in the $100-$250 price band and growth in key regions like China and India helped it become the biggest smartphone chipset vendor.