Creating Qualcomm (A)
In 1991, former engineering professor Dr. Irwin Jacobs and his team of top-notch scientists and engineers were preparing to take public Qualcomm, their budding wireless communications company. They had proven that their technological approach to wireless communications, Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA), was feasible—and demonstrated that it could provide important benefits to wireless telecommunications operating companies and their subscribers. The Qualcomm team had patented a number of important advances in CMDA technology, and plans were in place for the company to design semiconductor chipsets to further advance CDMA and Qualcomm’s intellectual property. On the market side, the technology had been deployed successfully in the company’s Omnitracs business, a transportation communications system that was growing quickly in the market. But serious obstacles stood between Qualcomm and Jacobs’ vision for the company.