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San Diego
Thursday, May 23, 2024
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Generation Next for Qualcomm

That Qualcomm Inc. has evolved into San Diego’s most well-known and arguably its most-respected company is a credit to its founder, Irwin Jacobs.

After finally shaking off the doldrums that struck so many telecom firms during the tech wreck of the past four years, Qualcomm now looks ahead as San Diego’s home-grown telecommunications giant literally steps into its next generation.

Irwin Jacobs’ resignation last week as Qualcomm’s CEO was more a ceremonial passing of the torch to his son, Paul, who joined the company in 1990 and has served as a division president since 2001. While the swirling waters of the cutthroat telecom industry have stilled a bit, Paul Jacobs faces plenty of challenges as he carves his own legacy at Qualcomm.

Perhaps his biggest challenge is the ongoing battle for market share for its prized CDMA technology , Qualcomm’s way of breaking up radio spectrum to accommodate multiple users. Currently, GSM is the standard used throughout much of the world and represents about 74 percent of the wireless market. Yet, hundreds of companies believe in CDMA’s future, to the point where a cottage industry has developed in San Diego around Qualcomm’s technology.

The 42-year-old UC Berkeley grad also must maintain Qualcomm’s sterling reputation as a solid corporate citizen. Not only is Qualcomm a model of good corporate governance, the philanthropic endeavors practiced by its senior executives most notably, father Irwin , are extraordinary and have enhanced dozens of schools and organizations in San Diego, and for that matter, across the country.

Father leaves son a daunting legacy to live up to, on both local and international stages. In just under two decades, Irwin Jacobs has built a company recognized around the world as an industry leader. Paul Jacobs will face the inevitable comparisons to his father, but as the next generation at Qualcomm unfolds, there’s plenty of room to establish himself as a visionary for years to come.

, Rick Bell

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