What Does Google Buyout of Motorola Mobility Mean for Workers?

Susan Hall

With Google's $12.5 billion purchase of Motorola Mobility, what will happen with the Motorola workers' jobs? It's hard to predict, though redundant positions within any company tend to be cut in an acquisition.


There's widespread opinion that Google made this move to acquire Motorola's intellectual property. As my colleague Lora Bentley noted, the smartphone patent battle just got more complicated. Meanwhile, Ina Fried at All Things Digital argues that keeping the patents, but selling off the hardware business makes sense on several levels.


As Mark McKechnie, a telecom equipment analyst at ThinkEquity in San Francisco, put it at FINS:

It's kind of clumsy for Google to own a handset company.

But 19,000 workers come with the Motorola Mobility acquisition, and Will Strauss, president of Forward Concepts, a Phoenix, Ariz.-based research firm specializing in the wireless semiconductor industry, told FINS that Motorola will "absolutely" add employees in R&D and wireless. It's already hiring, after years of layoffs. As much as anything, it will make working for Motorola cooler.


The FINS piece, however, suggests that the tech teams could start to migrate West - it points out that Motorola Mobility CEO Sanjay Jha, a former Qualcomm executive, maintains his primary residence in San Diego and commutes to Libertyville, Ill., during the week. However, Google and Motorola execs have reassured officials in the Chicago area that Google plans to run the company as an independent business and doesn't plan to move it.


In exchange for $100 million in tax breaks over 10 years, Motorola Mobility recently agreed to keep its headquarters and 3,000 jobs in Libertyville. It also will receive $4.25 million for capital expenses and jobs training as part of the deal, according to the Chicago Tribune.


That story notes that Google's purchases of other local companies - Feedburner and Performics, part of the DoubleClick deal - took place with few, if any layoffs. But those were much smaller companies.


It also raises hopes within Chicago's startup community. The story quotes Eric Lunt, a co-founder of Feedburner and CTO of Chicago startup BrightTag, saying:

There is probably a frustrated pocket of wild innovation in Motorola that might not have been able to see the light of day before, but now might get a chance.

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