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Friday, June 13, 2008
Motorola to cut jobs from R&D unit

Motorola Inc. is cutting more than 20% of the jobs in its research division and reassigning some of those that remain as the company continues to reorganize this unit.

It will eliminate about 120 of the 600 positions in Motorola Labs, the unit responsible for basic research in everything from cellphones to radio technology, according to a source familiar with the moves made Wednesday.

Another 180 workers are being reassigned to work in individual business units, ranging from cellphones to set-top boxes. The other 300 workers will remain with a much smaller unit to be renamed the Applied Research & Technology Center.

Motorola declined to comment on the specific job cuts, but confirmed the reorganization of the division.

"As part of the company?s strategic review of business operations, Motorola is moving some Motorola Labs project groups into the businesses they support," the company said in a statement. "This direct alignment will help R&D teams work with their business partners to optimize R&D investment and focus on projects that deliver the greatest value for Motorola."

The changes, which take effect July 1, are part of roller-coaster ride in Motorola's technology operations that began last summer when software and engineering were separated.

Chief Technology Officer Padmasree Warrior, once a rising star at the company, left Motorola in December for the same post at Cisco Systems Inc., which competes with Motorola in the set-top box business.

Her successor, Richard Nottenburg, who inherited technology duties along with his role as chief strategy officer, left last month to become CEO of a small telecommunications company near Boston. The duties have since passed to Dan Moloney, who is president of the home and networks unit, one of Motorola's three divisions.

Motorola is in the midst of trying to spin off its money-losing phone business from units that make two-way radios, set-top cable boxes, wireless data networks for businesses and gear to operate cell-phone networks.

Motorola's research division has been seen alternately as the company's greatest strength or one of its weaknesses, squandering money on efforts that too often didn't translate into products that could be sold. Supporters point to Motorola engineers who came up with the hit Razr while exploring how thin they could make a cellphone and get rid of the external antenna.

But Greg Brown, who formerly led Motorola's radio business en route to becoming CEO in January after the company struggled to produce a successful follow-up to the Razr, has repeatedly said one of the company's biggest problems in its cellphone business is that its products were too often "engineering driven." Some Wall Street analysts have criticized Motorola for having too many engineers and not enough products.

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