October 23, 2020

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John Legere will go down in corporate history as one of the greatest turnaround stories of all time

John Legere will go down in corporate history as one of the greatest turnaround stories of all time


A couple months right after John Legere got the major work at T-Mobile in 2012, Verizon ran a business belittling rivals by identify for their lesser community coverage. Some persons all-around Legere ended up furious, but the boss was happy. &#8220We designed the record, they talked about us,&#8221 he recalled to me decades afterwards. &#8220They are gonna regret the working day that they place us on that record.&#8221

T-Cell went on to lead the field in buyer development year immediately after yr, outgaining Verizon, AT&T, and Dash blended. The fourth quarter of 2019 marked the 27th quarter in a row that T-Cell obtained at minimum 1 million new customers—it included 1.9 million. A fantastic T-Cellular quarter is greater than a rival&#8217s complete year. As a end result, T-Cell&#8217s stock selling price has amplified six-fold because the business properly went public in 2013. (Verizon&#8217s inventory value is up just 9% considering the fact that then and AT&T&#8217s 2%.)

Legere&#8217s is a journey that will go down in the annals of corporate background as one of the greatest turnaround stories of all time, rivaling Lou Gerstner at IBM or Steve Jobs at Apple.

He took in excess of a fading, fourth-put also-ran that was having difficulties to continue being suitable and constructed a titan that drove the wireless sector. If Legere&#8217s deal to take Sprint off Masayoshi Son&#8217s arms finally closes in a couple of weeks, as now seems most likely, the mixed firm will rank next in the marketplace by some measures and very likely be worthy of far more than $100 billion on the stock industry.

Not a ton of persons outside of T-Mobile have been shopping for into Legere&#8217s eyesight when he stormed CES in 2013 and declared that T-Cellular would develop into the &#8220uncarrier&#8221 and do absent with two-12 months contracts. Alongside the way, T-Cellular dumped all sorts of wi-fi plan &#8220functions&#8221 hated by prospects, like roaming expenses, info overage service fees, and intercontinental usage costs. And don&#8217t forget about the numerous clever marketing campaigns, these types of as the time they gave absent free of charge pizzas. 

Executives at competing carriers employed to rail towards the F-bomb-dropping, Twitter war-engaging, magenta tee shirt-putting on Legere and declare his early good results was unsustainable, uneconomic, and downright fake. No 1&#8217s stating that anymore. When activist hedge fund Elliott Management released a lengthy letter attacking AT&T&#8217s approach past 12 months, it cited Legere&#8217s company as the design for good results: &#8220T-Mobile was the disruptive innovator.&#8221 

Certainly, just like Work opportunities and Gerstner, Legere benefited from some forces over and above his command, like the smartphone revolution that created large growth for the total wi-fi business. And he experienced a strong staff, commencing with Sievert and like networking genius Neville Ray, funding wiz Braxton Carter, and buyer treatment guru Callie Area. I chronicled their tactic in a element story two years ago.

Now Legere is at the other aspect of his journey managing T-Mobile. Right after eight a long time as CEO, the lifelong tech and telecom exec is stepping down at the conclusion of April, handing the reins to trustworthy lieutenant Mike Sievert. Legere hasn&#8217t said significantly about what he&#8217ll do upcoming, nevertheless we know he won&#8217t be functioning the bananas serious-estate startup WeWork, regardless of rumors (that position went to an true true estate exec).

As Legere sits in his 10th-floor corner office in Bellevue, Washington, perhaps packing up his T-Cellular-branded Segway and T-Cellular-branded sneakers that he offers to people, he&#8217s no doubt smiling and wondering of his future problem. It must be a really very good tale.

Aaron Pressman

Twitter: @ampressman

E mail: aaron.pressman@fortune.com





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