For anybody who has ever wondered what it takes to lead a world-renowned tech company, Qualcomm's chairman Paul Jacobs has taken the opportunity to offer up some words of wisdom. Much of the advice Jacobs gives may seem to be common knowledge, but as a bleeding edge SoC maker and innovator, the company he chairs has seen a lot of competition and has faced quite a few legal struggles – particularly over the last several months. Despite those difficulties, Qualcomm currently holds a position as the leading high-end chip provider for Android devices.
To begin with, Jacobs highlights the importance of taking risks and paying attention to trends. When he took his place as chairman at Qualcomm, he saw a potential in mobile being used for more than just making calls or playing simple games. By recognizing that shift to more intensive use, the company was able to focus on the then up-and-coming LTE technologies that would play a direct role, such as developing LTE-compatible SoCs that enabled video streaming. Beyond that, Jacobs made a point to stress the importance of executives leading in whatever way works for them and the company. For Jacobs, that meant getting people further down the chain of command to own the work they did and decisions they made. He accomplished that by allowing those employees to make more decisions for themselves as those applied to areas they were knowledgeable in. That drove innovation for the company, Jacobs says, because when snags or dead-ends were hit, those employees couldn't say "Oh, well, that was Paul said to do that, I give up." Instead, they were personally invested in each project. Finally, Jacobs pointed to how Qualcomm has doubled down on success. The company had built its own handset in 1998 – envisioning that connected devices were going to be big. When attempts at pitching the idea to companies like Apple failed, the company built its own chipset which eventually became Snapdragon. As the idea gradually began to take hold and a market began to form, Qualcomm was already well placed to lead and Jacobs says the company decided, "we're going to put all of our effort behind it."
Qualcomm has, as mentioned above, been in court more than a few times fighting to maintain its position near or at the top of its game. Among the most recent are allegations pertaining to "double-dipping," which have been brought by none other than Apple. That said, Jacobs took over his current position back in 2005 and has helped to effectively create a company that is synonymous with high-end, premium smartphones. For 2018, the chip maker is expected to hold onto its placement in the market and may even create the most efficient chips for the incoming generation of the handheld devices – beating out even Samsung's Exynos chipset for this go around. Furthermore, Qualcomm has already shifted focus to chips that enable next-generation 5G before the supporting technology is even readily available. Given those things, it is probably safe to say that Jacobs' advice is well worth heeding for any individual either in or planning to be in an executive role at a tech company.