Globalstar hires ex-Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs as chief executive

Globalstar, the satellite company that announced a licensing deal with Apple last year, named former Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs as CEO. Matt Grob, former CTO at Qualcomm, is joining Globalstar as chief technology officer.

Paul Jacobs
Paul Jacobs

In addition, Globalstar has exclusively licensed Xcom Labs’ technology to enhance its terrestrial wireless efforts, with the goal of accelerating its ability to develop commercial applications and enter a broader range of markets. Both Jacobs and Grob are part of the senior leadership team at Xcom Labs, a company formed after they left Qualcomm.

Jacobs, who is the son of Qualcomm founder Irwin Jacobs, was CEO of Qualcomm from 2005 to 2014. He resigned from Qualcomm’s board after attempts to take the company private.

As CEO of Globalstar, Jacobs succeeds David Kagan, who is retiring. Jacobs’ role as CEO of Globalstar includes driving the company’s ongoing strategic initiatives to develop and deploy solutions across terrestrial and satellite for customers worldwide.

A year ago, Globalstar gained notoriety with the revelation that its satellites are supporting Apple’s Emergency SOS service, which debuted with the iPhone 14.

Alongside Jacobs’ appointment, Globalstar entered into a strategic perpetual licensing agreement for exclusive access to certain Xcom technologies and personnel.

The license covers a number of Xcom’s technologies, including Xcomp, a commercially available coordinated multipoint radio system designed to deliver capacity gains in sub-7 GHz spectrum. Globalstar also will get exclusive access to Xcom’s peer-to-peer technologies that could have applications across cellular and satellite devices.

“I have devoted my career to advancing and commercializing innovation in wireless technology and am thrilled to continue this journey as CEO of Globalstar,” Jacobs said in a statement. “The teams I’ve led have demonstrated the value creation that is possible by applying new technology to enhance capacity of underappreciated spectrum, and that is one of the many opportunities I see at Globalstar.”

Some of Xcom’s leaders contributed to the original Globalstar system while at Qualcomm, and “we believe we will continue to break new ground with this team,” said Globalstar Executive Chairman Jay Monroe in a statement.

Long history

Qualcomm’s relationship with Globalstar dates back to the 1990s when Qualcomm and Loral Space & Communications launched the satellite project. Qualcomm did a lot of the technology development, which included CDMA optimization, and Globalstar paid for a substantial amount of engineering services over the course of almost a decade, noted industry analyst Tim Farrar of TMF Associates.

“It would not be at all a stretch to say that Globalstar in the 1990s made Qualcomm what it is today,” Farrar told Fierce. By the time Monroe bought the company in 2004 after Globalstar went through its Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the relationship with Qualcomm was well established.

Jacobs’ role at Globalstar also isn’t surprising given his interest in satellite technologies when he was at Qualcomm, Farrar said. During this time as CEO, for example, Qualcomm pursued air-to-ground (ATG) systems for wireless communications on airplanes. Qualcomm also was an investor in OneWeb when Jacobs was executive chairman.  

Other Xcom executives who will be joining Globalstar include Peter Black, Tamer Kadous and Daaman Hejmadi.

While Globalstar won Apple’s business last year, it appears that progress in acquiring more customers over the past year has been slower than expected, Farrar said. Meanwhile, Xcom needs more financing to support all of its activities, and it will get that through this new deal.   

Under terms of their current licensing agreement, Globalstar agreed to issue about 60 million shares of common stock to Xcom as a licensing fee. Globalstar shares were up more than 20% at one point this morning, trading around $1.30.