Skip to Content

Qualcomm’s Mollenkopf on Its Anti-Trust Battle and the Rise of 5G: CEO Daily

Good morning.

Two years ago, Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf came to Brainstorm Tech in Aspen in the midst of a bruising IP battle with Apple, and confidently predicted it would be settled. It finally was, in April, causing the company’s stock to soar.

Yesterday, Mollenkopf was back, and discussing another challenge—a ruling that the company’s licensing practices violate antitrust laws. Again, he was confident. And adding to his confidence was a Department of Justice filing this week that sided with Qualcomm and cited the need to protect the company’s business model for national security reasons. (Qualcomm is critical to “the race for 5G.”). “We think we will prevail,” Mollenkopf said.

Asked whether the legal and regulatory battles distract from the company’s core business, he replied: “It’s a distraction to about ten of us. But the people who are really focused on technology are still focused on it, because they love it.” That’s not counting, of course, the armies of lawyers who are making their living off of these cases.

Mollenkopf’s broader point was that “5G is coming,” and that will be a boon to his business. He predicted most people in the audience will have 5G phones by this time next year, with Qualcomm technology in them. Moreover, the company is expecting to see growth in its non-cell-phone businesses as companies reinvent their business models, putting mobile chips in everything to collect and process data. As Intel CEO Bob Swan put it on Tuesday: “Everything is going to be a computer.” Or a smartphone.

After his interview, I asked Mollenkopf whether the regulatory battles were changing the way his business operates. He said the main change is that the company is spending more time documenting its licensing negotiations and practices so it can show that “we don’t do a lot of the things we are being accused of.”

An interesting legal footnote: the antitrust case that Judge Lucy Koh based her ruling against Qualcomm on involved a fight between two ski resorts here in Aspen.

More coverage of the last day of Brainstorm Tech here.

Alan Murray




Netflix Subscriptions Disappoint

The streaming giant underwhelmed in its second quarter, as its U.S. subscriber numbers dropped for the first time in nearly a decade—130,000 people cut the service. But worldwide, the bigger picture is that Netflix’s subscriber numbers have not been meeting its own forecast of blockbuster expansions amid increased competition from Disney, Apple and others. WSJ

How AbbVie Keeps Prices Sky High

AbbVie’s flagship drug, Humira, has turned the drugmaker into a global pharma giant, and the company has aggressively blocked competition in order to boost its sales. The drug treats a slew of conditions, and for many patients, it’s a life changer—but there’s a dark side to Humira’s dominance. Fortune

IBM vs. the Cloud

IBM’s earnings were a mixed bag in the second quarter, as revenues fell for the fourth straight quarter but exceeded analysts estimates, and the stock couldn’t quite decide how to interpret the earnings after the close. One bright spot: revenue from the Cloud and Cognitive Software unit rose by $5.65 billion, above analyst expectations, a sign that IBM’s efforts to catch up with its rivals in the cloud are gaining momentum. CNBC

Russia Backs EU Efforts to Boost Trade with Iran

Russia has signaled it will back the EU’s efforts to sidestep U.S. sanctions on Iran. The payments channel, called Instex, was designed by Brussels to keep up trade with Iran and walk the country back from breaking limits on its uranium enrichment process. But just 10 EU countries are members, and the initial credit line is far below the level of trade before U.S. sanctions.  FT


Louvre Removes the Sackler Family’s Name 

The Louvre is the first major museum to remove the Sackler family’s name from its walls over the opioid epidemic. Members of the Sackler family own Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin. The family has also been known for its donations to major art institutions, who have faced calls to remove the family’s name and turn down donations. New York Times 

How Huawei Conquered the Faroe Islands 

The tiny string of islands in the North Atlantic has one of the fastest 4G networks on earth—and now it hopes to be one of the leaders in 5G, too. The islands have done so via a close relationship with Huawei, but U.S. spying charges against the Chinese company have now thrown that goal into question. Politico

Is FaceApp a Security Risk?

The face editing app—which can make your face look older or younger—is a viral phenomenon. It was also developed in Russia. Now, some politicians are saying it’s a security risk: U.S. Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer called on the FBI to investigate and the Democratic National Committee has warned presidential candidates not to use it. Reuters

Wealthy Influencers Look to Wall Street 

Top influencers can pull in seven figure salaries, and the influencer advertising market is expected to be worth as much as $10 billion by 2020. So what do influencers need now? Bankers, who will understand the highs and lows of an industry where incomes can be unpredictable and many of the biggest stars are young. Bloomberg

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by Katherine Dunn. Find previous editions here, and sign up for other Fortune newsletters here.