Former Sun Exec Has Big Plans for Motorola

Motorola is bringing on former Sun Microsystems President Edward Zander as its new chairman and chief executive officer, a move that brings an outsider to lead the former number one cell phone maker.

The 56-year-old Zander takes over on Jan. 5 at a time when Motorola has slipped to third in handset revenues behind Nokia and Samsung Electronics.

During a conference call discussing his new position, Zander’s comments reflected his goals in the new position. “Motorola should own wireless,” he said. “I don’t consider this to be a turnaround. Maybe a turn-up, or something like that.”

Zander replaces Christopher B. Galvin, grandson of Motorola founder Paul V. Galvin, who announced his retirement in September. Mike Zafirovski, who was a finalist for the top position, will remain as president and chief operating officer (COO) of Motorola .

John Pepper, Jr., director and chairman of the Motorola CEO search committee, said Zander “knows technology and knows how to commercialize it. He has a realistic view of the challenges we face.”

In the first half of the 1990’s, the Schaumberg-Ill.-based Motorola sold more than half the world’s cell phones. Much of that market share faded away by the late 1990’s, however, and in August of 2000, the company laid off approximately 60,000 workers. The restructuring returned Motorola to profitability, but the company has yet to regain its market dominance.

In October of this year, Motorola decided to spin off its semiconductor division with an IPO sometime next year.

“Motorola is a global icon with a powerful base of technology, customers and employee assets that are invaluable to millions of users everyday,” Zander said. “There is a coming big opportunity in the global communications space and Motorola is leader in digital convergence.”

Zander was president and COO of Sun Microsystems until June 2002, when he resigned after it became apparent he would not be selected as the company’s CEO. He joined Sun in 1987 and helped lead the company to $18 billion in revenues, overseeing Sun’s manufacturing, research and development, and sales and marketing.

Prior to becoming to Sun’s COO, Zander served as president of the company’s software group, where he led the development and marketing of Solaris and led Sun’s network management, PC integration, and software product suites.

“A lot of our growth at Sun was working with the Nokia, Motorola and other wireless companies,” Zander said. “We worked with Motorola with Java inside their phones and with 3G. Five years ago, Motorola was the hottest company in the world and then we all got hit with the downturn.”

Zander also said he would bring execution and accountability to Motorola.

“We’ve got to pick our spots and deploy our resources worldwide,” he said. “If you visit any part of the world, they are not putting up telephone poles. They are going wireless.”

News Around the Web