Joyce Lee, 17 January 2021
SEOUL (Reuters) – For years, legal troubles have cast a cloud over Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Jay Y. Lee as he stood on the cusp of stepping out of his father’s shadow and making a name for himself as the leader of the global tech giant.
On Monday, he faces sentencing on a bribery charge that could sideline him from the world’s largest smartphone and memory chip maker just as it looks to overtake rivals in areas such as chip contract manufacturing and artificial intelligence (AI).
“Samsung is at a crossroads,” said Park Ju-gun, head of researcher CEO Score. “COVID-19 has accelerated change, and other third-gen (Korean) business leaders are aggressively breaking into new business.”
Park cited Hyundai’s EV push and LG’s joint venture with Magna as examples of ambitious initiatives led by the grandsons of those conglomerates’ founders.
“But Samsung hasn’t really seen big changes in new business such as AI since its 2016 Harman acquisition, except increasing the foundry business, because of continued legal risk. The next few years will decide whether Samsung will become, say, a global platform company or remain a hardware company,” he said.