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Lee Jae-yong stresses need to reshape Samsung

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Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, left, poses with Google CEO Sundar Pichai on the sidelines of his visit to Google headquarters in Mountain View, California, the United States, Tuesday (KST). Courtesy of Samsung Electronics
Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, left, poses with Google CEO Sundar Pichai on the sidelines of his visit to Google headquarters in Mountain View, California, the United States, Tuesday (KST). Courtesy of Samsung Electronics

Samsung chief meets Google CEO in US

By Kim Yoo-chul

Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong has called on his employees to make joint efforts to change their way of thinking to enable the country's top conglomerate to overcome any potential future crises, the company said Tuesday.

His rare remarks came during his visit to Samsung Research America (SRA) and its Device Solutions office in Silicon Valley, Monday, before returning home from his U.S. trip. SRA is a core entity for Samsung as it handles the development and initiation of all the firm's future products.

"Industrial maps are being reshaped and that means the environment for the company's survival is changing dramatically. We can't survive in this by chasing other companies in a bid to overtake them," Lee was quoted as saying in a press release by the company.

"I want you to join me in reshaping a new Samsung by turning impossible things into possible ones. This will be a painful process. But this is a way that hasn't been explored before."

Lee's move is seen as an attempt to win backing from role models. He earlier met the Verizon Wireless CEO, and held talks with Google CEO Sundar Pichai at Google headquarters, Tuesday. Google has been a top backer of Samsung since the beginning of their relationship.

When Samsung was involved in a patent litigation battle with Apple a couple of years ago, Google acted as a "helper" by allowing the Korean firm access to some of its confidential data. Various conceptual designs by Google have been commercialized by Samsung given its strength in manufacturing.

"The relationship was strengthened further as the Lee-Pichai meeting touched upon the joint development of system semiconductors, virtual reality, augmented reality and driverless vehicles," a Samsung representative in Seoul said.

Observers note that Lee may have asked Google's top management to let Samsung manufacture application processor chips ― brain chips ― for use in Google's in-house Pixel smartphone, as he earlier said the company was hoping to become the top system chip producer by 2030 by outdoing the Taiwan-based TSMC. If Google agrees, then this will be a huge plus for Samsung in terms of narrowing the gap with TSMC.

Samsung Electronics finally announced that Taylor, Texas, would be the site for its new factory after details of tax incentives were fixed. The official announcement will be made by the Texas governor with Samsung filing the specifics of the investment plan with the Korea Exchange (KRX), according to sources.

Lee, who was released from prison in August after the justice ministry decided he was eligible for parole, is currently in the United States for a series of in-person and casual meetings with top executives of Samsung's core and future clients.

In an earlier rare press release, Samsung said Lee met with the co-founder of Moderna. He also had talks with several unknown White House officials in Washington D.C., offering an expanded role for the company in supporting the Biden administration's semiconductor supply chain initiative in return for more substantial assistance with its scheduled investment in Taylor.



Kim Yoo-chul yckim@koreatimes.co.kr


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