Although Motorola rode a two-year high-profile success with its sleek RAZR phone, the company has dropped to third place among mobile phone makers, and turned in doleful financials for the first half of 2007—and although the third quarter wasn’t to bad, it still represented a 94 percent drop in profits. Today, however, Motorola’s stock buoyed up a bit: CEO Ed Zander announced he would be stepping down January 1, to be replaced by current Chief Operating Office Greg Brown. Zander will continue in his role as chairman of the company’s board until at least the company’s annual shareholder meeting in May 2008, and as an advisor to the CEO through January 5, 2009..
“Next year marks my 40th year in the technology industry,” said Zander in a release. “This is the right time for me to move on to the next phase in my life and spend more time with my family. I am grateful I had the opportunity to lead Motorola over the last four years. It’s been a wonderful experience.”
Brown joined Motorola in 2003 and has served as COO since March; prior to Motorola, he was chairman and CEO of network management firm Micromuse.
Although Motorola’s third quarter numbers may indicate a financial turnaround is already underway, Brown will have his work cut out for him: the company’s mobile phone business (Motorola’s largest business unit) just rang up an operating loss of $138 million on $4.5 billion in sales during the third quarter, with a 36 percent decline in sales. Although those figures represent an improvement from the $264 million the unit lost in the second quarter, they’re still significant decline from the hey-day of the RAZR, when the unit was pulling in around $5.5 billion in sales.
“The Board is delighted that Greg will serve as CEO,” said Samuel C. Scott III, lead director of Motorola’s board, in a statement. “We are confident that he will bring a combination of strategic insight, operational discipline, and inspirational leadership needed for accelerated and sustained growth.”