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3 Former Qualcomm Executives Launch Wireless Startup

Paul Jacobs, former Qualcomm Inc. CEO and the son of the San Diego company’s co-founder, Irwin Jacobs, has launched a wireless technology startup with two other former executives from the chipmaking giant.

The company is called XCOM. Jacobs, its chairman and CEO, said on Twitter June 6 that he launched it to “invent and invest in wireless technology with the world’s most creative engineers and business people.”

Jacobs was booted from his spot on the Qualcomm board earlier this year when, in the wake of a failed hostile takeover bid by rival Broadcom Ltd., he said he intended to pursue taking the company private.

Derek Aberle, formerly president at Qualcomm and head of its patent licensing arm, is the new company’s president and chief operating officer. Aberle left Qualcomm in December after 17 years with the company in the midst of its ongoing legal battle with Apple over licensing fees.

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Matt Grob, XCOM’s chief technology officer, left Qualcomm more recently, following news of 1,500 impending job cuts at Qualcomm offices in San Diego and in Northern California. The layoffs were part of Qualcomm’s cost-cutting efforts; the firm, during the hostile takeover bid, promised to slash $1 billion.

Fun in the Future

At the time, Jacobs said on Twitter in response to Grob’s announcement of his departure from the company: “I predict some more fun in the future…”

Grob was with the firm for more than 25 years, including a stint as its CTO from 2011 to 2017 and, most recently, as Qualcomm Technologies’ executive vice president of technology.

“We’ve got what we think are some pretty novel and creative ideas for how to improve some of the areas that have been focused on already, but even ones that people haven’t really focused on yet,” Aberle said of XCOM’s aims. “It’s early, so we don’t want to tip our hand too much, but we’ve been talking just a little bit about some of the needs that tried to be addressed with 5G, like latency, reliability, security (and) edge computing.”

Lab Space

The San Diego-based company, which is being funded by the trio that launched it, is hiring and plans to lease lab space soon.

“The level of investment in communications and wireless technologies particularly in the U.S. is something we think should be at a higher level,” said Aberle, who is also working with Jacobs on a longshot bid to take Qualcomm private in the wake of the failed Broadcom acquisition effort.

Were the buyout effort come to pass, Aberle said the new venture would likely integrate into a privately held Qualcomm.

“If that worked out, I think there would be a path to merging those things together one way or another, but that could take some time, so we figured: Let’s get started since we have these ideas and want to get moving on them,” he said.

As the takeover effort saga unfolded earlier this year, Qualcomm’s board of directors said Broadcom, which had said it would pay more than $100 billion, undervalued the company.

Any buyout effort would have to top that to have a chance of scoring shareholder backing.

Privatizing Qualcomm

Still, Aberle emphasized that the XCOM launch did not signal any backpedaling on the effort to find funding to privatize the tech behemoth.

“We’re going to continue to do that,” Aberle said. “This new venture is not in lieu of that.”


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