Qualcomm ex-CEO Jacobs drops plans to take chipmaker private

Instead, he reportedly will focus on his new wireless technology startup, XCOM.

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Shara Tibken was a managing editor at CNET News, overseeing a team covering tech policy, EU tech, mobile and the digital divide. She previously covered mobile as a senior reporter at CNET and also wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. Shara is a native Midwesterner who still prefers "pop" over "soda."
Shara Tibken
2 min read
USA: Technology: Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs

Paul Jacobs, Qualcomm's former CEO, no longer plans to take the company private. 

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Qualcomm's former CEO won't take the company private after all.

Paul Jacobs has dropped his attempts to buy the chipmaker, according to The Wall Street Journal. Instead, he plans to focus on his new wireless technology company, called XCOM, the publication said. 

Qualcomm declined to comment. Jacobs couldn't immediately be reached for comment. 

Virtually every major handset maker -- besides Apple and Huawei -- buys Qualcomm's modems, which connect phones to cellular networks. But Qualcomm, the world's biggest maker of wireless chips, has been facing litigation across the world for how it operates its business licensing patents to phone makers. Apple, once one of Qualcomm's biggest customers, sued the company two years ago, and they'll meet in court in two weeks over the licensing dispute. 

Jacobs left his role as Qualcomm's chairman a year ago after Broadcom's hostile takeover attempt for the chipmaker failed. Qualcomm at the time announced that Jacobs was looking at buying out the company that his father, Irwin Jacobs, co-founded. Such an offer seemed to have little chance of success, as Jacobs owns less than 1 percent of the company, which at the time was valued at about $90 billion. Launching an offer for Qualcomm would have required backers with deep pockets.

Jacobs started working at Qualcomm in 1990. He served as CEO from July 2005 to March 2014 and had been on the board since June 2005. Jacobs' most recent roles at Qualcomm were board chairman, a position he held from March 2009 until March 2018, and executive chairman, which he held from March 2014 to March 2018. Qualcomm replaced Jacobs with independent director Jeffrey Henderson as chairman of the board, and it eliminated the role of executive chairman in response to the Broadcom takeover struggle.

Last year, Jacobs started XCOM to tackle issues related to next-generation mobile communications, including 5G . The goal is to make everyone's phone act like a cell tower, quickly routing traffic. At the same time, Jacobs continued to find backers for a possible Qualcomm takeover. 

But in late 2018, Jacobs decided Qualcomm was too expensive to take private, according to The Wall Street Journal. 

"As Qualcomm's position changed, the conditions weren't right to take it private," Jacobs said, according to the publication. "However, industry dynamics have created an opportunity for our new company Xcom to drive the development of advanced wireless technologies and we have exciting new ideas to bring to market."

Watch this: Apple vs. Qualcomm: Court battles explained