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Executive Jim Wicks ditches Motorola for academia

As Motorola continues to struggle, another of their main players has decided to leave the company. Jim Wicks will soon be faculty with Northwestern.

Published onJune 21, 2016


“Motorola has been doing really well,” said nobody recently. The company’s market shares began swiftly dropping in the late 2000’s when people stopped being wooed by the once ubiquitous Razr line, and even Google acquiring the company didn’t give them the umph they needed to get back on their feet. After being shouldered off onto Lenovo, the company has experienced further difficulties, most recently culminating with the departure of long-time exec and industry veteran Rick Osterloh. The now-former Motorola president joined back up with Google to work on hardware, and the second knell of the Moto death bell is chiming as Jim Wicks of the Motorola Mobility design team packs up his bags as well. If the writing isn’t on the wall, it’s certainly at least somewhere on the floor nearby the wall.

Jim Wicks is bailing on the spiraling mobile company in favor of the academic life. He will be joining the Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering come July. Replacing him will be Ruben Castano, who formerly led Lenovo’s MBG Design Studio in Sao Paulo. Chairman of Motorola Mobility and co-president of Lenovo’s mobile business group Aymar de Lencquesaing spoke highly of Wicks upon his departure, saying that his contributions leading consumer design experience delivered “standout, iconic, and award-winning industrial design and user experiences for Moto’s mobile and wearable products,” and that the company “wish[es] Jim well as he enters this new phase of his career.”

Naturally Motorola’s PR is still playing an upbeat tune, but is the band on the deck of the Titanic? The phone maker has been shrinking gradually over the last several years, with it employing 3,000 people in Chicago at the time of purchase by Google. Under guidance of the search giant, the company still hemorrhaged 1,000 of these workers, and after Lenovo picked it up, they were forced to slice off an additional 500 employees in 2015.

What are your thoughts regarding Jim Wicks’ departure from Motorola to join Northwestern University? How does this bode for the Lenovo-owned smartphone maker? Let us know your predictions and opinions in the comments below!

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