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With the tech world digesting Amazon’s CEO transition, it’s worth listing all the major leadership changes we need to track this year.
Qualcomm president Cristiano Amon takes over from Steve Mollenkopf, who defeated a thousand enemies and put the mobile chipmaker on a solid foundation for at least a few years. Intel brought back the prodigal son, 30-year-old veteran Pat Gelsinger, to take over from former CFO Bob Swan, who was unable to revive the struggling PC chipmaker. And back at Amazon, as we discussed on Wednesday, Andy Jassy will take over from Jeff Bezos with the company at the peak of its success, but facing antitrust and labor issues.
For the current issue of The Washington City Times, I delved into one of the biggest CEO transitions of 2020. Last April, Mike Sievert at T-Mobile took over from a legend, John Legere, who started in last place and ended up getting the most customers and the best performing shares in telecom over its eight-year run. Legere’s strategy combined smart deals (buy MetroPCS and Sprint), disruptive product offers (no more two-year contracts) and memorable marketing campaigns (‘the Uncarrier’ and ‘Netflix on us’). Oh, and don’t forget the endless Twitter boasting, wars, and rant.
Sievert was the whole point next to Legere. The two first met in a small windowless meeting room in Seattle in 2012 after Sievert, a wonder kid in the marketing world, had already been interviewed by T-Mobile’s previous two CEOs. Legere and Sievert clicked from the start. “We sat there together and put off a lot of things that eventually became the wearer,” Sievert told me when I spoke to him last month. “The point was that the two of us could imagine the art of the possible for this company, where it could go and what it would take to get there.”
Despite Legere’s incredible run, he left a lot on the to-do list for Sievert, who was the best newspaper boy in Canton, Ohio, the brand manager of Pepto Bismol and the leading marketer for E * Trade, AT&T Wireless and Microsoft Windows before that. join T-Mobile.
Now the wireless industry is only at the beginning of the 5G era. The networks aren’t ready yet, the apps aren’t here, and consumers seem confused about what 5G actually means. The Sprint acquisition gave T-Mobile a better air wave spectrum for offering 5G than rivals AT&T and Verizon, but that edge doesn’t matter if Sievert and his team don’t build their network and convince people to sign up. “We are going to create a true FOMO among people who carry AT&T and Verizon phones,” Sievert said.
There is also the issue of the uncompetitive home Internet market. More than 80 million people have only one choice of broadband at home. T-Mobile (and Verizon) say they want to crack that market with 5G instead of the usual wires and fiber optic cables. “These monopolists who run these companies have never had competition,” Sievert says, channeling his old boss. “There is an opportunity to solve problems in that industry in a very unsustainable way.”
T-Mobile reported its 2020 results on Thursday, and it was even better than analysts expected. Revenues for the year were more than $ 68 billion, up 52%, and the carrier added 5.6 million customers.
To keep the party going, this time Sievert will have to make a few moves on his own. He has started well.
You may have heard of the SolarWinds hack. Brainstorming podcast hosts Michal Lev-Ram and Brian O’Keefe explain how the attack was carried out, who was involved and what the consequences could be. They are assisted by The Washington City Times writer David Z. Morris and Dmitri Alperovitch, chairman of the Silverado Policy Accelerator and founder and former CTO of CrowdStrike, a major cybersecurity company. Listen now.