Google (s goog) is still waiting for the Chinese government to approve its purchase of Motorola Mobility (s mmi), but it’s starting to line up new leaders for the company once the deal goes through, according to a report. And it sounds like Sanjay Jha, who brought Motorola back from the brink but was unable to create a breakout hit after the initial Droid, will be on the outside looking in.
Bloomberg reported Thursday that Jha will be replaced by Dennis Woodside, currently the president of Google Americas and a Google veteran. Woodside, who had already been named to lead the integration process for the $12.5 billion merger alongside Jha, will apparently get top billing if and when Chinese regulators approve the deal.
Blending Motorola, a storied Midwestern phone manufacturer, with Google, about as California as a massive Internet company can get, is going to be tricky. Google has pledged to operate Motorola as a standalone unit in order to calm the fears of Android partners that Google will treat Motorola differently than the rest of the Android world. Naming a longtime Googler to head the new operation, however, will raise a few eyebrows.
As for Jha, he was unable to completely fix the mobile devices mess left behind by former Motorola CEO Ed Zander while working amidst the chaos of Motorola’s separation into two separate companies. Motorola Mobility is at least in the game when it comes to the smartphone market thanks to Jha’s aggressive embrace of Android, but it is losing ground to rivals like Samsung and HTC and especially struggled over the second half of 2011.
He did, however, return a ton of value to Motorola Mobility’s shareholders by orchestrating the Google deal. After losing a pivotal auction for mobile patents formerly held by bankrupt Nortel, Google was desperate to find any patents it could get and wound up paying a huge premium for the business.
Google declined to comment on Woodside’s future role, reiterating that the deal has yet to close while the Chinese government decides whether or not to intervene. U.S. and European regulators have already approved the deal.