Microsoft Taps Qualcomm Vet to Head Business Development

Microsoft appoints Margaret L. Johnson, former president of global market development for mobile chipmaker Qualcomm, to overlook the company's business deals and explore industry partnerships.

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Microsoft's latest appointment signals that it is indeed taking a "mobile-first" approach to the technology market.

Margaret L. (Peggy) Johnson has been named executive vice president of Business Development, a role that makes her "responsible for driving strategic business deals and partnerships across various industries with key customers, strategic innovation partners, OEMs, key accounts, third-party publishers and industry influencers," stated Microsoft. She will report directly to CEO Satya Nadella when she begins work on Sept. 1.

"Peggy shares our worldview and knows what it takes to drive new growth in mobility and the cloud," said Nadella in a company statement. Johnson held a similar role at Qualcomm, a major supplier of mobile processors for smartphones and tablets, as executive vice president and president of the company's global market development unit.

"Her experience uniquely positions her to lead Microsoft's business development efforts, and she will be a great addition to our senior leadership team," said Nadella.

The 24-year Qualcomm executive helped shape the company into one of the leading mobile component providers. In 2005, she presided over the acquisition of Elata, a British mobile content delivery software company.

Anticipating the explosive growth of the mobile Internet, she said at the time that the deal exemplified Qualcomm's "commitment to offering operators in Europe and around the world an innovative and flexible set of solutions for managing and delivering wireless content." Earlier that same year, Qualcomm snapped up Bedminster, N.J.-based Flarion Technologies, a wireless broadband technology specialist.

Microsoft's announcement stated that Johnson "played an instrumental role in launching the world's first large-scale mobile app store." Her official bio reveals how her experience fits with Microsoft's new growth strategy.

"Notably she was responsible for Qualcomm's global marketing organization and oversaw Qualcomm Labs, a wholly owned subsidiary of Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., that served as an incubator focused on launching new businesses and products, as well as exploring new market segments for Qualcomm technologies," reads her profile on Microsoft's Website. "Johnson also served as a member of Qualcomm's executive committee."

Now, she is tasked with helping set the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant on a more mobile-focused, cloud-enabled path during a period of major, culture-changing restructuring efforts at the company.

On July 17, Microsoft announced that it was laying off 18,000 workers, or roughly 14 percent of the company's workforce, the bulk hailing from the company's recently acquired Nokia handset business. A week earlier, Nadella indicated that big changes were in store for Microsoft in a lengthy memo to staffers.

"I'm thrilled to be joining Microsoft at such a pivotal time for the company and the industry," said Johnson in a statement. "The opportunity to build new and surprising partnerships to help Microsoft succeed in a mobile-first, cloud-first world is truly exciting."

Johnson is a graduate of San Diego State University with Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering. Prior to Qualcomm, she spent a stint at General Electric's Military Electronics Division as an engineer.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...