Cher Wang takes reins as CEO of HTC

20 Mar 2015

HTC chair and CEO Cher Wang. Photo by Robert Scoble via Flickr

HTC chair and co-founder Cher Wang has been appointed by the board of directors to take over Peter Chou’s role as CEO effective immediately.

Wang will retain her role as chair of the company as she steps in to take the lead after tough times for the Taiwanese device-maker.

Founded in 1997 by Wang, Chou and HT Cho, HTC released the first smartphones sporting the Android operating system – the HTC Dream – in 2008.

Though its flagship range of HTC One smartphones are critics’ darlings, the devices have failed to capture significant marketshare in the face of stiff competition from Apple’s iPhone brand and rival Android phones from Samsung, as well as low-cost newcomers such as Xiaomi.

Wang looking at products for the future

Wang takes the reins at a time when HTC is embarking on new adventures with products for emerging technology, such as the virtual reality headset in partnership with Valve which the company unveiled at Mobile World Congress.

“We pioneered the smartphone industry; now we are applying that thinking to realise the potential of a new generation of connected products and services. The overwhelming response that our virtual reality product, HTC Vive, received earlier this month underlines the importance of these new connected technologies for our future,” said Wang in a statement.

“As an entrepreneur at heart, I am excited to see so many new opportunities, and I am honoured to accept this opportunity to help shape the next stage of HTC’s development,” she added.

Chou to focus on new developments

Meanwhile, outgoing CEO Chou – who has suffered through three years of declining sales but marked a reversal of fortunes in January this year when HTC celebrated a revenue jump – will take on a new role as head of the HTC Future Development Lab.

This new title will see him leading future product innovation at HTC, and could include development for new projects such as the HTC Vive, the periscope-shaped RE camera, and a smartwatch partnership with fashion brand Under Armour.

Most powerful woman in wireless

The change in leadership will come as no surprise to anyone closely watching the company over the past few years, as Wang has been increasingly involved in managing the business while Chou focused on product development.

Wang’s entrepreneurial mettle has been proven in the establishment of a number of IT-related businesses, and she has been recognised with continuous appearances on Fortune’s annual list of the Most Powerful Women in Business and, in 2011, when she was named by Forbes as the Most Powerful Woman in Wireless.

“I know the company, I know the people, and I have the vision,” she told Bloomberg News in an interview. “I think I am the best candidate. I suggested it.”

Women Invent Tomorrow is Silicon Republic’s campaign to champion the role of women in science, technology, engineering and maths. It has been running since March 2013, and is kindly supported by Accenture Ireland, Intel, the Irish Research Council, ESB, Twitter, CoderDojo and Science Foundation Ireland.

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.