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Comeback kid: How Taiwan's MediaTek rose to mobile chip dominance

CEO has driven turnaround since taking reins over four years ago

Under CEO Rick Tsai, MediaTek has shed its "budget" image and forayed into the premium mobile chip market long dominated by Qualcomm. (Photo by Cheng Ting-Fang)

TAIPEI/ HSINCHU, Taiwan -- When Rick Tsai took the CEO position at MediaTek more than four years ago, industry experts and investors all thought he had been handed a poison chalice.

Then the world's second-largest mobile chip developer after Qualcomm of the U.S., MediaTek was locked in a ferocious price war for 4G smartphone chips. The company's operating margin hit a historic low and it reported its first ever loss in its smartphone chip business. Making matters worse, MediaTek's most important chip offering of 2017 was a flop, with very few smartphone makers agreeing to use it.

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