San Diego business leaders are on edge right now about the future of one of the region's economic powerhouses: Qualcomm.
The multinational company that focuses on mobile technology breakthroughs is the target of a $100 billion-plus takeover bid by Silicon Valley's Broadcom.
Depending on the actions Broadcom takes if it acquires Qualcomm, the takeover may signficantly impact San Diego's economic output, employment base and attractiveness to other businesses.
That's no exaggeration--Qualcomm is considered an industry unto itself.
"They are continuing to be the future of innovation,” Mark Cafferty said, the president and CEO of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp. “And when you talk about 5G, when you talk about wearable, programmable technology, all those things are continuing to be right where Qualcomm is at the cutting edge."
Qualcomm created the wireless market in San Diego. Its engineer-driven research and innovation is taking the firm beyond computer chips for cell phones.
"The strength of Qualcomm right now continues to be in what they're creating,” Cafferty said. “And how far in front of existing technology they're continuing to stay."
Qualcomm has a $7.4 billion regional impact, according to economist Kelly Cunningham.
Its presence in San Diego serves as a magnet for talent and other companies in telecommunications and information technology.
As Cafferty noted: "It attracts smart people to the region whether they go to work for Qualcomm or not, just because of the persona that it generates in innovation circles."
More than a third of Qualcomm's 33,000 global employees are based here. The company is generous with research, education, startups and philanthropy.
Many are wondering about Broadcom's long-term corporate strategy for Qualcomm.
"We've seen biotech mergers and acquisitions that happen in San Diego that, unfortunately, have led to those companies having a very small presence here,” Cafferty told NBC 7. "We've seen other biotech mergers and acquisitions where the investment has meant everything to saving and growing that industry. And we need to make sure that we don't jump to any conclusions that we're seeing one or the other right now."
Bloomberg reported that Qualcomm investors were not tempted by Broadcom's opening bid, but would consider a higher one.
Fund managers said investors' patience has been "tried" and their confidence was "undermined" by the firm's legal struggles with Apple and other businesses.