Wednesday, October 18, 2006

It's a Family Affair at Qualcomm

Paul Jacobs, CEO of Qualcomm (charts) since July 2005, is talking up the tech company's latest big bet: live television on your cell phone. Jacobs is spending $800 million on the gambit, which includes a state-of-the-art network operations center a few miles from Qualcomm's San Diego headquarters. "You should see it," Jacobs declares proudly. "It's very trick."

A dozen years ago Qualcomm (Charts) was a wireless tech company, pure and simple. It had developed the digital wireless process called CDMA (code division multiple access), which is now the leading standard in the U.S. and serves as the basis for every 3G (third generation) network being built around the world.

Nobody would have guessed then that the company would one day be home to a fledgling media operation, and that its executives would be trying to do deals with TV networks and Hollywood studios. And nobody would have heard Dr. Irwin Mark Jacobs, a founder, previous CEO, and Paul's 73-year-old dad, use the word "trick" to describe a data center - or anything else.

But the world that Qualcomm has long dominated is changing, and to keep it going strong, the younger Jacobs must revamp the company's business and its know-it-all culture - the things his father created. To do that, Paul Jacobs, 44, can't just take a page from his father's playbook. The older Jacobs badgered the wireless industry into adopting CDMA as a way to squeeze more calls onto scarce wireless spectrum - even though much of the world embraced a competing standard called GSM.

Check out Stephanie Mehta's (Fortune Senior Writer) complete article here (

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