This month’s Galaxy S4 debut wasn’t the only big news for Samsung.
The company also promoted two of its presidents to CEO.
J.K. Shin, the company’s mobile boss, and Boo-Keun Toon, the appliances boss joined current overall CEO Oh-Hyun Kwon.
That’s right. Samsung now has three CEOs.
However, the move appears to be more of a title bump for Shin and Toon than a move to the traditional CEO role. They’ll still report to Kwon while managing their respective divisions within the company.
What’s strange is very little is known about the three men in charge of Samsung. And it looks like Samsung wants it to stay that way. We reached out to the company for more information on the three CEOs, but it denied to provide official bios or anything else. (For what it’s worth, we’ve heard this isn’t unusual for a Korean company. It’s part of the culture.)
Instead, we’re left with minimal corporate bios and a handful of interviews the CEOs have given over the years.
Here’s what we do know.
Let's start with the main person in charge of Samsung, Oh-Hyun Kwon. He's been CEO since July 2012. He replaced Choi Gee-sung, who left the CEO gig to manage Samsung's corporate strategy.
Kwon joined Samsung in 1985. He's an engineer at heart, with a B.S. and M.S. in electrical engineering.
Before becoming CEO, Kwon oversaw Samsung's components business, which makes displays, chips, memory, processors, etc. Kwon helped lock down one of his division's biggest customers, Apple. Apple uses a lot of Samsung components in its mobile devices. Under Kwon, Samsung became the second largest chip maker in the world.
Shortly into his tenure as CEO, Kwon privately met with Apple CEO Tim Cook to try and resolve the patent dispute between the two companies. The talks failed, and Samsung was eventually found liable in the case. It is now going through appeals.
The next big shift in Samsung's top leadership came March 14, 2013, the night the company unveiled its new flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S4. Samsung announced that two of its presidents, J.K. Shin and Boo-Keun Toon, would join Kwon as co-CEOs.
Shin was the president in charge of Samsung's wildly profitable mobile division. Samsung's mobile devices are the hottest products it sells, so it seems like a natural fit for Shin to get the promotion.
Shin is pretty outspoken too. In a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, Shin blasted Microsoft by saying Windows phones and tablets aren't selling well. This could also be a hint that Samsung plans to double down on Android.
Toon was in charge of Samsung appliances, which includes stuff like refrigerators, washing machines, and televisions. Samsung is getting ready to launch a new line of Smart TVs that can pull in data from your cable provider and help you find what you want to watch.
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