Chancellor Khosla Praises Trump Administration’s Decision to Block Qualcomm Takeover

Atkinson Hall, site of the Qualcomm Institute Innovation Space. Photo courtesy of UCSD Communications.

Chancellor Pradeep Khosla and other UC San Diego staff members were surprised and appreciative of President Donald Trump’s executive decision on Monday to block a proposed takeover of San Diego telecommunications company Qualcomm.

In an executive order, President Trump blocked Qualcomm Inc, one of UCSD’s largest sponsors, from being purchased for $117 billion by Singapore-based telecommunications company Broadcom Ltd. Trump says he blocked the process due to his belief that Broadcom “might take action that threatens to impair the national security of the United States.”  

According to The San Diego Union-Tribune, Qualcomm has given the University $54 million in donations and research contracts since 2001, while Qualcomm co-founder Irwin Jacobs and his wife have collectively given UCSD $286 million since the early 1980s. Qualcomm’s acclaimed involvement with UCSD evident: one the campuses most active centers of industry is called the  UC San Diego Qualcomm Institute, a division of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology that works to generate “innovative technology solutions to large-scale challenges,” as stated on their website.

After the presidential announcement to end Broadcom’s bid for Qualcomm, several UCSD staff members expressed shock, gratitude, and skepticism.

“This is good news, but it’s not clear that the deal is dead,”  Henrik Christensen, director of the UCSD Contextual Robotics Institute, told the Union-Tribune. “Broadcom is going to register as a U.S. company. If they come back with a set of U.S. banks backing them up, it isn’t clear that the government will have the power to intervene. We’ll have to see what happens.”

In an interview with the Union-Tribune earlier this month, Khosla was questioned about the possibility of Qualcomm Inc. being sold to Broadcom Ltd and did not seem to express concern. “If [Qualcomm] gets sold—short of it getting up and leaving en masse—I don’t see the impact on San Diego being that significant,” he said. Yet, following Trump’s executive order protecting Qualcomm from sale, Khosla changed his stance.

“This is clearly excellent for San Diego,” he said. “And good for the country.”

Matthew Rom-Toribio is a staff writer at The Triton.