Zander Gets Top Motorola Job

Edward J. Zander, former COO and president of Sun Microsystems, has been named CEO of Motorola.

December 16, 2003

3 Min Read
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Named to head Motorola Inc. Tuesday, Edward J. Zander said he didn't view the sprawling electronics company as a "turnaround" prospect, but rather as a candidate for a "turn-up." Zander, former COO and president of Sun Microsystems, has most recently been working as a managing director of a California venture-capital and restructuring firm.In reaching out beyond its company ranks for a new CEO and chairman, Motorola passed over Mike Zafirovski, currently the Illinois-based firm's president and COO. At an analysts meeting Tuesday morning, Zander, displaying his well-known sense of humor, indicated he would work to keep Zafirovski in the Motorola fold. "We'll go to charm school together," said Zander. "We'll sit in the hot tub together."

Zafirovski said he was "disappointed" he didn't get the job, but indicated he would be a good soldier and continue working hard for the firm's success. Zafirovski had been given high marks by investment banking analysts for his work at Motorola ever since he came over from GE three years ago. Zander said he planned to "work closely" with Zafirovski.

Zander had been a prime candidate for the position shortly after Christopher Galvin, who had been serving as chairman, announced his resignation in September. Zander said he has spent the past several weeks studying the firm, its customers, and its products. He noted that he had visited Motorola's semiconductor unit, which is a candidate for a "spin-off."

As for the future, Zander said he would take a few months continuing to study the company. He added that he was particularly interested in Motorola's work in the mobile-communications area. He said: "We ought to be number one in cell phones."

He added that he believed communications wireless mobility represented a huge opportunity both on the infrastructure side and on the consumer side."We have to get the research into development and development into customers hands," Zander said.

At the analysts meeting, it was revealed that Zander was a prime candidate "right at the outset," as soon as the search committee began looking for a new chairman.

Zander listed five areas that played an important role in his decision to take the job: (1) Motorola is an important business icon; (2) due to its strength in communications, it has a huge market opportunity; (3) its strong research-and-development commitment produces "deep technology assets"; (4) the firm's strong "global brand"; and, (5) its "people" are a great resource.

The announcement was made Tuesday by Motorola, which had said the day before that the firm was weighing two candidates for the top job. The other candidate was Zafirovski, who had also sought the top job. Zafirovski will stay on as president and COO, the firm said. On Jan. 5, Zander will replace Galvin, whose grandfather and father before him had led Motorola.

Zander has been serving as a managing director of Silver Lake Partners, a private equity firm with a concentration in technology investments.Before Sun. Zander had held top jobs at Apollo Computer and Data General. Zander's strengths have been centered more in workstations (Sun and Apollo) and minicomputers (Data General,) leading to immediate speculation that he had been selected more for his management expertise than for his knowledge of Motorola's markets. Motorola has already announced that it wants to sell its semiconductor unit; its cell phone operation, once the industry leader, has been hampered in recent years and has seen competitors pass it by.

A native of Brooklyn, Zander has a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a master of business administration from Boston University.

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