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Jon Rubinstein returns: Former Palm CEO joins Qualcomm's board

When Jon Rubinstein came out of retirement from Apple to join Palm way back in 2007, little did he know the odyssey upon which he and Palm were about to embark. From launching the Palm Pre less than two years later, becoming Palm CEO, guiding Palm into HP's money-filled arms, launching the HP TouchPad tablet, and then watching as all the work he'd overseen got flushed down the toilet, Rubinstein's tenure at the lead of webOS was one of ups and downs, successes and utter chaos. So it was little surprise when, after watching webOS get a thin leash on life as an open source project, Rubinstein left HP in early 2012 for his second retirement.

Rubinstein returned to his Mexican beach villa and resumed the sipping of margaritas while browsing the web on his tiny HP Veer. While he left the door open to returning someday to tech, if anybody needed some time off after the webOS debacle, it was Jon Rubinstein. His schedule of siestas and cervezas is about to be interrupted, though we can't imagine it'll be on an all to frequent basis: Rubinstein was today elected to the board of directors of chip manufacturer Qualcomm.

While Rubinstein joined Palm's board as a very active and hands-on Executive Chairman with the goal of dragging Palm into the future of mobile computing, he's coming to San Diego-based Qualcomm while it's at the top of its game and firing on all cylinders. Rubinstein's addition to the board brings a new heft and decades of computing and mobile experience to the table. Besides webOS, Rubinstein is credited as being the man who made Apple's iPod possible from an engineering standpoint, and was a key player at Steve Jobs's NeXT.

It's not quite Silicon Valley, but it's definitely silicon. Welcome back, Ruby.

The addition of Rubinstein to Qualcomm's board

Qualcomm Elects Jonathan Rubinstein to Board of Directors

SAN DIEGO, May 6, 2013 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Qualcomm Incorporated (NASDAQ: QCOM) today announced the election of Jonathan Rubinstein to its Board of Directors. Rubinstein brings more than 30 years of experience in the mobile, computing and consumer electronics industries to the position, and he last served as senior vice president of Product Innovation for Hewlett-Packard Company until January 2012.

"We are extremely pleased to welcome Jon as a member of Qualcomm's Board of Directors," said Dr. Paul E. Jacobs, chairman and chief executive officer of Qualcomm. "His experience in creating revolutionary consumer electronics and mobile products will provide added insight to Qualcomm's board as we continue to expand the scope and impact of wireless products and technology, improving and enhancing people's lives around the world."

Rubinstein's longstanding career has spanned a number of roles. In his most recent positions at HP, he led product innovation for HP's Personal Systems and, prior to that, presided over the launch of the HP's Touchpad tablet as senior vice president and general manager of Palm Global Business Unit. Previously, Rubinstein joined Palm Inc. as executive chairman in 2007, where he focused on product development, R&D and engineering to drive Palm's return to innovation with its webOS software and smartphone devices. He led Palm as chairman and chief executive officer from June 2009 until it was acquired by HP in 2010. Prior to his role at Palm, Rubinstein earned the nickname, "The Podfather," while running Apple's iPod division, where he was instrumental in creating the iPod and its robust ecosystem. He also served as senior vice president of Hardware Engineering, where he was responsible for overhauling the Apple's engineering teams, product roadmaps, manufacturing processes and leading the rapid rollout of the iMac. Rubinstein previously held a number of engineering and leadership positions at different computing companies, such as Stardent Computer and NeXT Computer Inc., and founded his own company, Firepower Systems Inc.

Rubinstein is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, a senior member of the IEEE and a board member of Amazon.com, Inc. He earned a bachelor's and master's degree in Electrical Engineering from Cornell University and a master's degree in Computer Science from Colorado State University.

About Qualcomm Incorporated

Qualcomm Incorporated (NASDAQ: QCOM) is the world leader in 3G, 4G and next-generation wireless technologies. Qualcomm Incorporated includes Qualcomm's licensing business, QTL, and the vast majority of its patent portfolio. Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated, operates, along with its subsidiaries, substantially all of Qualcomm's engineering, research and development functions, and substantially all of its products and services businesses, including its semiconductor business, QCT. For more than 25 years, Qualcomm ideas and inventions have driven the evolution of digital communications, linking people everywhere more closely to information, entertainment and each other. For more information, visit Qualcomm's website, OnQ blog, Twitter and Facebook pages.


Comments

I must say, as much as I like Jon, Qualcomm, your days are numbered!

I'm not sure why you'd say that. No one complains too loudly over the performance of the nexus4. I think Qualcomm is still a player in the hi end phone market...

I think TheDark_Night is referring to the fact that Jon Rubinstein, despite his expertise, can be considered somewhat responsible for what happened to Palm and later what happened to webOS at HP.

the corporate heads had more to do with the probkem, though(in my opinion)

Hah I live in San Diego. I would love to get an interview from him.

As much as he did to get Palm back in the league (even though that failed, partly due to his sellout to HP) I don't really see how he can help Qualcomm "innovate". They mostly make CPU's, something Jon has never created or technically worked with before (he only got it assembled in the webOS hardware).

The Board of Directors for a company is made up of people who are often from related industries. This brings in experience and knowledge that can help the company work with others more efficiently and better balance the risks taken. In this case, Ruby's experience with mobile devices from the final product side can help Qualcomm, which is largely on the component side, better understand the risks associated with a given possible option.

Even if he hasn't worked with CPUs directly (I'm not sure how technical he is), he's seen a number of products to market and even more get prototyped, and probably knows some of the issues that arise in engineering a device and advise Qualcomm how to help its customers avoid engineering pitfalls that he may have seen in the past.

His sellout to HP is what brought the Touchpad and kept WebOS going for as long as it did. If I remember correctly, Palm was looking to sell because they were running out of investor cash.

ZNet had article lays out some of the different reasons why Qualcomm is bringing him in as a member of the board. The were:

Contacts
Understanding Qualcomm and its customers
Technical know-how
He understands the cloud's potential
Marketing

However, BoD members usually don't do much day-to-day type work for a company anyway. They meet a few times a year and it varies how involved they are between those meetings. Do you think Al Gore contributes to innovation at Apple? I doubt it.

>>Contacts
Understanding Qualcomm and its customers
Technical know-how
He understands the cloud's potential
Marketing<<

LOL

Contacts, many of the most talented people used to work with/for him at Palm, Apple and HP. Most of them had unhappy departures.

Understand Qualcomm and it's customers, he didn't understand end users and Qualcomm seems to do well with their clients already.

Technical know-how, fail. They underclocked CPUs, never uses or optimized GPU's, constrained by poorly integrated hardware leading to failure to deliver advanced and basic capabilities at every turn.

He understands cloud's potential, yet failed to safeguard client data, erasing many profiles and never really took effective use of broadband cloud utilization.

Marketing...."fat middle", "phone of mom's", totally abandoned the core values of the Palm/Treo marketing advantages (namely data carry over, local synch, O/S carryover, app carryover, expandable memory, deep batteries, sturdy hardware, and delivery of promised functionality). Let's face it, he failed to market a superior product and compel loyal and new customers to invest in their product.

I don't know why Q put him on their board, unless it was to keep their lower ranks from hiring him. Maybe they're hopping to make inroads with HP...smh

Here's the full list, but feel free to send your resume to Qualcomm since you must be a better candidate for the position.

1.) Contacts. This one's a no-brainer: as a Silicon Valley-based veteran of the mobile space, Rubinstein is just a phone call away from many important people in the region. That's key for a company that's headquartered 500 miles away from the area where two of the most popular mobile operating systems are under development.

2.) Understanding Qualcomm and its customers. This isn't Rubinstein's first time at the Qualcomm rodeo; he has been incorporating the company's processors into devices (Pre 3, TouchPad, Veer) since he joined HP. He's familiar with the company, its products, its assets and shortcomings from a customer standpoint; that's valuable in the boardroom. And he understands how to operate in a world that's largely controlled by wireless carriers.

3.) Technical know-how. One of Rubinstein's lesser-known previous roles? Senior vice president of Hardware Engineering at Apple, where he overhauled that company's engineering teams, product roadmaps and manufacturing processes. He's also been to hell and back with the development of the Enyo HTML5-based application framework. If there's anyone who can understand the challenges of the mobile market through the lens of hardware, it's Rubinstein.

4.) He understands the cloud's potential. Like other mobile leaders, Rubinstein saw the coming shift to cloud-based personal computing way back in 2007, and built Palm's devices accordingly. As the space developed, he emphasized the consistency of experience across devices. And he's keenly aware of the movement in the home automation space. "The future is web-based apps," he has said. All of that plays into Qualcomm's LTE-colored vision for the future.

5.) Marketing. Qualcomm may sell to other businesses, but it has taken several steps recently to boost awareness among the general population: aside from its ownership of naming rights on the stadium where the San Diego Chargers football team plays, it has earmarked some money for marketing, namely around the company's namesake brand and its Snapdragon family of mobile processors. (We're still a far from "Intel Inside," but you get the point.) Rubinstein has an extensive history here: he's experienced what definitively works (Apple); what might have worked, had it been sustainable (Palm); and what really didn't work at all (HP). If Qualcomm seeks momentum and mindshare, Rubinstein has a few war stories to share.

It's easy for him to impress you and me, but he didn't seem to have that effect on the rest of the world. He's a jack-of-all-trades. He was a good team member in Steve Job's controlled squad, but as a leader of Palm and a champion of WebOS at HP, his efforts lacked cohesion and follow through. Promises, undelivered. Components, not well integrated. Messages, not heeded. Customers ignored him, developers ignored him and carriers walked away.

He knows how important wierless networks are, you're right. They all wanted out two years into his tenure. We're talking about a guy that told the world he'd never used an Iphone, even though that phone defined the space and was made by his former team. That arrogance or ignorance (pick either poison) created even more disconnect between the wireless world and himself. Selling Rudy, is about as hard as selling the Pre3 at it's debut.

GROAN, "yeah, come on" [Golf clap].

Everything we needed or were promised two years before, and only six months away from that point. If....

i'll wait for the influx of comments that he will somehow revive webOS from the qualcomm side, then we can blend that with the LG rumourmill and ge some interesting fan fiction going to help inflate the forums.

The only positive thing Jon could do for webOS there would be to get the drivers open-sourced so OpenWebos could be ported to existing and future hardware. Sigh.

Long live webOS!

He's going to be on the BoD but I don't think he'll be involved in day to day stuff. Isn't he on the boards of a few other companies as well?

He is still at Amazon's BOD.

This is a mixed bag really. I would much rather see WebOS being used still today but as we all know that is a far reach. The industry has amazing cpu's what it doesn't have is an amazing, fresh OS. That's why I think his time should be spent somewhere other than Qualcomm.

He should Apples CEO. He's a visionary person and Apple really needs that right now.
Thanks AK

Pre 3 contest?

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Jon Rubinstein returns: Former Palm CEO joins Qualcomm's board
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