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posted: 5/22/2012 8:18 PM

New CEO for Motorola Mobility; new location?

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  • Motorola Mobility in Libertyville

      Motorola Mobility in Libertyville

  • Dennis Woodside

      Dennis Woodside

  • Sanjay Jha

      Sanjay Jha

 
 

Google executive Dennis Woodside started his first day as chief executive officer of Motorola Mobility Tuesday, days after Google's acquisition of the Libertyville-based mobile phone maker became final.

Woodside replaced Sanjay Jha, who will continue to work with Google on the transition -- one that could affect the local workforce and suburban economy.

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Libertyville Mayor Terry Weppler said a representative indicated to village Economic Development Coordinator Heather Rowe that the company is "looking at all their options" for a site for its headquarters. The representative gave no more specific information, Weppler said.

Reports in recent weeks have indicated Google officials were looking to move the headquarters out of Libertyville, possibly to Chicago.

"I don't know that they're going to move. I don't think it's a pre-drawn conclusion," Weppler said.

Motorola Mobility spokeswoman Jennifer Erickson declined to "comment on rumor" about whether the company will remain based in Libertyville.

The company remains "committed to Illinois," Erickson said.

The company has about 20,000 workers worldwide, including about 3,000 in Libertyville.

Whether the change in leadership will lead to layoffs also isn't known. As of Tuesday, the company has not filed any documents with the state of Illinois to indicate any workforce changes.

"There are no additional changes on the day of close and we won't speculate on the future," Erickson said.

Weppler took a shot at a potential Chicago location, saying "Motorola wasn't disrupted at all" by NATO-related protests over the weekend like some Chicago businesses were.

He also took issue with outgoing CEO Sanjay Jha.

"If Motorola moves, it just shows the CEO sold out all (the) employees in Lake County," Weppler said.

Weppler and Lake County Board Chairman David Stolman agreed that if the company moved its employees out of Libertyville, the impact would be felt countywide.

"It's an institution in Lake County that, obviously, we don't want to lose. It means so much to all of us," said Stolman, adding that he, like Weppler, had not been told of any plans for Motorola Mobility to leave.

Motorola Mobility, instead, focused Tuesday on plans for what it called a new era of fewer, but bigger, product launches.

"Our aim is simple: to focus Motorola Mobility's remarkable talent on fewer, bigger bets, and create wonderful devices that are used by people around the world," Woodside said in a statement.

Google announced last August it would buy the phone maker for about $12.5 billion. The global companies required approval of the sale from worldwide jurisdictions, including China, which was provided over the weekend. As a result of the acquisition being completed, the Motorola Mobility stock with the ticker symbol of MMI was stopped and delisted from the New York Stock Exchange and an annual shareholder meeting scheduled for June 4 has been canceled.

"It's always hard when one company buys another, especially when one of them has a long-standing culture like Motorola has," said Jane Zweig, an independent analyst in the wireless industry. "Motorola Mobility doesn't have the entrepreneurial spirit that Google has, so it's hard to say now what will happen."

State Rep. Ed Sullivan, a Mundelein Republican, said it could be good news to have a high-profile company like Google with a local presence.

"We will have a good corporate partner," he said.

Motorola Mobility will remain a licensee of Android, and Google will run Motorola Mobility as a separate business, the company said in a statement.

Throughout Motorola's storied history, the recurring theme has been one of reinvention.

"Motorola is a great American tech company, with a track record of over 80 years of innovation," Google CEO Larry Page said in a statement. "It's a great time to be in the mobile business, and I'm confident that the team at Motorola will be creating the next generation of mobile devices that will improve lives for years to come."

Page selected Woodside because "he's been phenomenal at building teams and delivering on some of Google's biggest bets."

"Dennis has always been a committed partner to our customers and I know he will be an outstanding leader of Motorola -- and he's already off to great start with some very strong new hires for the Motorola team," Page said.

Google scooped up Motorola Mobility after its separation from the mother ship, Motorola Inc. Jha was tapped in 2008 as a co-CEO with the mission of separating Motorola Inc. into two publicly traded entities. But the recession hit and a likely sale faded. So a plan to split up the companies in 2009 was postponed.

In the meantime, Jha and his team created more consumer-friendly phones with the Android platform and eventually returned to profitability. Jha and co-CEO Greg Brown also worked on dividing the workforce, worldwide operations, assets and intellectual property, and the split happened on Jan. 4, 2011.

• Daily Herald staff reporters Mick Zawislak and Mike Riopell contributed to this report.

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