MADISON, Wis. – Spreadtrum Communications, China’s leading mobile baseband chip company, fired its CTO, Qiuzhen Zou, effective at close of business on April 25, Beijing Time.
A company spokesperson, contacted by EE Times, declined any further comment. Spreadtrum has no plans to replace Zou’s position in the immediate future, according to the company.
Previously, Zou was CEO of MobilePeak, which Spreadtrum bought in 2011.
The acquisition of MobilePeak and its UMTS/HSPA+ solution has been critical to Spreadtrum’s international strategy. Spreadtrum, a Shanghai-based fabless, badly needs to expand its business beyond the TD-SCDMA-dominated Chinese mobile market by making further inroads into the WCDMA feature phone, smartphone and tablet markets.
MobilePeak's Shanghai and San Diego teams have been also key to Spreadtrum’s efforts to develop next-generation multi-mode modem technologies. In a recent interview with EE Times, Spreadtrum CEO Leo Li noted that the company’s second-generation 28-nm process LTE solution (CAT 4), scheduled to be out in the fourth quarter, will feature five-mode basebands (TDD-LTE, FDD-LTE, WCDMA, TD-SCDMA and EDGE).
None of this explains Spreadtrum’s sudden sack of its CTO.
One Shanghai-based industry source, quoting an article that appeared in China a few weeks ago, hinted at an internal turmoil among Spreadtrum’s engineering team, many of whom are former MobilePeak employees. They are said to be unhappy because they felt they got short-changed by Zou and Spreadtrum when their pre-IPO stock options were converted to Spreadtrum shares.
The Chinese article, according the source, also noted that Zou made a private deal with Spreadtrum, a move that upset colleagues, including his closest confidants.