Skip to main content
  • E-mail
  • Save
  • Print

Paul Jacobs, CEO, Qualcomm

  • Story Highlights
  • Dr. Paul Jacobs, CEO of Qualcomm, talks to CNN's Andrew Stevens
  • Jacobs took over the business from his father, Irwin, the founder
  • Outside of work he is a keen mogul skier and patron of the arts
  • Next Article in World Business »
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font

HONG KONG, China (CNN) -- Taking over a business from your father is daunting enough. But when your father happens to be an industry pioneer, a virtual legend, it's even tougher.


Paul Jacobs, CEO of Qualcomm

That's what Paul Jacobs faced in 2005, when he took over as Qualcomm's CEO from his father Irwin.

Irwin founded Qualcomm in 1985 to commercially develop CDMA: a cell phone network system which is now a worldwide industry standard. CNN's Andrew Stevens met up with Paul Jacobs on a visit to Hong Kong for "The Boardroom."

Stevens: You joined the company established by your father in 1990, in your late 20s. Was there ever an issue for you, do you think, about whether or not to join the family firm?

Jacobs: Oh sure. I was trying to make a decision about whether I wanted to be a professor and go into academia or actually go into industry but you know that I decided I loved having the ability to see my ideas turn into products that other people were using, so that led me to go into industry and I figured that, if I was going to do that, Qualcomm was the best place to go.

Stevens: As you say, your father's an icon, he is a bit of a legend really in the industry, which makes it all the more difficult for you. How or when do you remember that you thought to yourself I am out of his shadow, I am my own person running this company now?

Jacobs: Oh I don't think that I will ever feel that way I think he will always cast some shadow. I mean he is the person who built the foundation for the business and it is really up to me to take that platform and take it to the next level. I think I still have a lot of things I need to do and that there is a lot of opportunity for the company because, as we change how we think about a cellular telephone, there are just all of these new things we can put into it.

I say if I can change it so that your average person no longer thinks about the phone as a voice device but thinks about it as really their intermediary to their cyberspace persona and the way that they interact with all of their data, not just with their friends, but anything they are interested in whether it is entertainment or computing that is really where I think I will make my mark.

Stevens: How do you get people, because it is a very attractive vision you offer them but many tech firms could say pretty much the same thing: "We are the future." How do you lure the best and the brightest?

Jacobs: I think people understand that we have this reputation for innovation and also in addition to that we actually bring the products to market, but one of the things that I find very compelling, and our employees find compelling, is that we work through such a broad range of partners and the fact that the phone really has so much attention on it and is getting so many functions built into it that that space of partners is broadening all of the time.


Stevens: You are a keen mogul skier, a tough business, a patron of the arts, is this how you get away from it all? Is this how you unwind?

Jacobs: The thing I love about mogul skiing is that most of the time I spend my time thinking and planning about the future. When you are on a mogul field your future is maybe one or two bumps ahead of you so it is a very good experience for clearing the mind. And the thing I find also is that you get a lot of creativity when you sort of get out of the day-to-day and you are able to kind of take a step back and think more broadly and so I find that clearing my mind in that way definitely helps. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

  • E-mail
  • Save
  • Print