Report: Google to replace Motorola CEO Jha with Woodside

Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) will replace Motorola Mobility (NYSE:MMI) CEO Sanjay Jha with Google executive Dennis Woodside, according to a Bloomberg report. The move, if it comes to pass, would cap Jha's turnaround bid at Motorola and come shortly after Google received regulatory approval for its $12.5 billion purchase of the handset maker.

Sanjay Jha

      Sanjay Jha

According to the report, which cited three unnamed sources familiar with the matter, Woodside came out on top of short list of candidates that included Christy Wyatt, Motorola's senior vice president for enterprise, and Chief Strategy Officer John Bucher. Woodside ran Google's advertising sales business in the Americas before taking on the job of overseeing the acquisition in the second half of last year;the acquisition still has not closed. Woodside took on the advertising role in 2009 after Tim Armstrong left to become the CEO of AOL.

Google and Motorola declined to comment, according to Bloomberg, but the report noted that Motorola spokeswoman Jennifer Erickson said: "We're focused on running the business and getting the deal closed and wouldn't comment beyond that on executive changes." Motorola spokeswoman Becki Leonard separately told Wired: "Sanjay is fully engaged, focused on running the business and getting the deal closed."

Google has said Motorola will be a subsidiary and will operate at arm's length and will not receive preferential treatment over other Android licensees, though concerns have persisted that Motorola and Google will become more closely aligned once the deal closes. Google will obtain 17,000 wireless patents through its acquisition of Motorola and hopes to use those patents to shield other Android licensees. 

The Department of Justice and the European Union each gave their blessings to the acquisition last week, eliminating the last remaining obstacles. However, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) recently filed a complaint with the EU over a patent dispute with Motorola, claiming Motorola is charging unreasonable terms for certain patents related to though Motorola has said it is open to resolving the issue in a "mutually beneficial manner." 

Jha came to Motorola as co-CEO in 2008 from Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) and quickly decided to transition the company's fading handset business to Google's Android platform. Motorola shot back into prominence thanks in large part to its partnership with Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) on the original Droid smartphone, and has enjoyed modest success with Android since 2009. However, the company was never able to break out from the pack of numerous Android vendors and achieve strong financial success.

Last year Jha maneuvered Google into raising its bid price 33 percent before Google eventually settled on the $12.5 billion price tag, according to a regulatory filing. Jha is set to collect a payout of as much as $65.7 million through the deal, mainly through stock and stock options, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

For more:
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this Wired article

Special Report: Best turnaround CEOs of all time

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