Where Did Qualcomm Go Wrong?

By Bolaji Ojo – It’s a justifiable question. The Qualcomm–NXP trip was an expensive sortie: Qualcomm has paid $2 billion in mandatory break-off fees to NXP, but the bill for the hidden costs may be much higher. For nearly two years, the communications IC and IP supplier and its target endured prolonged uncertainties. Even now, the spasms from customer disruptions remain strong while many employees, though heaving a sigh of relief, must figure out where they truly belong in the enterprise.

Qualcomm is moving on resolutely from the NXP debacle. It must. However, the implications and lessons — if any — are industry-wide. One of the largest acquisitions in the history of the semiconductor industry foundered because of oppositions from various fronts, including customers who might have benefited from it. Simply dumping the blame on nebulous factors and faceless regulators will result in the industry learning nothing from the experience. Perhaps the transaction was destined to fail. Perhaps it could have been better managed and successfully, too. A thorough assessment of why this deal collapsed would offer lessons that can be applied to future deals.

There are no signs that Qualcomm will conduct a detailed analysis of why and how the bid unraveled. It is easier — again — to simply toss more money at stakeholders and move on. NXP’s management and shareholders who had tendered their equity could slake their thirst with $2 billion in Qualcomm’s money. more>

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