T-Mobile CEO John Legere to step down in 2020; COO and President Mike Sievert will succeed him

T-Mobile CEO John Legere. (GeekWire Photo)

T-Mobile CEO John Legere will step down from the chief executive seat next year, concluding a memorable tenure that saw the company transform into a disruptive force, shaking up the wireless industry and challenging incumbent leaders AT&T and Verizon.

Legere will be replaced as CEO by Mike Sievert, the company’s current president and chief operating officer, effective May 1, 2020, when Legere’s contract expires. In a news release, executives noted that Legere will remain on the board and focus on closing the company’s acquisition of Sprint.

WeWork is reportedly interested in tapping Legere as its next CEO, hoping the executive can apply his turnaround magic to the struggling co-working company. However, reports last week indicated that Legere was not interested in the job. In a call with analysts and reporters Monday morning., Legere denied reports that he was in talks to take over as WeWork CEO.

“I want to be clear; I was never having discussions to run WeWork,” Legere said. “And because we had this announcement pending, I couldn’t say that.”

As to what he will do next, the brash executive said he is not retiring. “I’ve got 30 to 40 good years and five or six more acts in me,” he said. Legere said he is getting lots of suggestions for companies that need the kind of cultural transformation that he instituted at T-Mobile.

Before he starts thinking about his next act, Legere says he wants to guide the Sprint merger to completion and help with the transition to the “New T-Mobile.”

Legere has been grooming Sievert to succeed him for years. The move was meant to happen after the merger between T-Mobile and Sprint was approved, but the deal has taken longer than expected to close.

However, the company didn’t want to delay the change because T-Mobile sought to give regulators, customers and other stakeholders an assurance that the vision for the combined companies will remain in place after Legere moved on.

In addition to Legere’s departure, CFO Braxton Carter’s contract has been extended to July 1, 2020, and the company will look for a replacement. Neville Ray, T-Mobile’s CTO, has been promoted to the title of president of technology.

Since joining T-Mobile in 2012, Legere has helped turn around the company, guiding it to 26 straight quarters with more than one million net customer additions. Since he became CEO, Legere drove an aggressive campaign in which T-Mobile branded itself the “Un-carrier,” with new pricing strategies, subscriber benefits and promotions that forced rivals to change their own packages and promotions.

T-Mobile’s customer count now tops more than 84.5 million and is the nation’s third-largest wireless carrier behind Verizon and AT&T. Legere, known for guzzling Red Bull, running marathons, and his popular Slow Cooker Sunday cooking show, ranks No. 4 on Glassdoor’s Top CEOs list.

But Legere’s main accomplishment, if it goes through, will be the merger with Sprint. The deal will create a $146 billion wireless juggernaut, putting T-Mobile in its best position yet to challenge AT&T and Verizon.

Legere noted on a call with reporters and investors that the leadership change doesn’t impact the company’s commitment to completing the merger. However, the deal is still facing opposition in the form of a multi-state lawsuit brought by attorneys general who claim the merger will hurt consumers and competition.

Sievert has been with the company since 2012, starting as an executive vice president and chief marketing officer. He has served as an executive at a variety of big wireless and tech companies, including Microsoft, AT&T and Clearwire.

Developing story, more to come. Here is the full news release announcing the changes:

BELLEVUE, Wash.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–T-Mobile US, Inc. (NASDAQ: TMUS) today announced that its Board of Directors has named Mike Sievert as Chief Executive Officer, effective May 1, 2020. Currently President, Chief Operating Officer and a Board Director, Sievert will assume the CEO role from John Legere after the conclusion of Legere’s contract on April 30, 2020. Sievert’s new title will be President and CEO. Legere will remain a member of the Board.

The CEO transition is part of the Board’s well-established succession planning process to position the next generation of leadership at T-Mobile to take the Company forward.

“John Legere has had an enormously successful run as CEO. As the architect of the Un-carrier strategy and the company’s complete transformation, John has put T-Mobile US in an incredibly strong position. I have the highest respect for his performance as a manager and as a friend, I am very grateful to him for the time together,” said Tim Höttges, Deutsche Telekom CEO, and Chairman of the Board of T-Mobile US. “John taught everyone at T-Mobile that if you listen to customers and empower employees, you can change a culture – and by doing so – change a company and an entire industry. On behalf of the Board of Directors, I would like to thank John, and of course Mike, and all the employees for everything they have achieved over the past seven years. We have tremendous respect for John’s leadership and appreciate his incredible contributions to T-Mobile’s success. The Board is pleased that John will support this leadership transition while focusing on closing our pending acquisition of Sprint.”

With Legere’s involvement, the Board undertook a comprehensive, multi-year, leadership succession planning process tied to the strategic direction of T-Mobile and has chosen Sievert to step into the CEO role next Spring. Sievert has worked alongside Legere for the last seven years, transforming T-Mobile into the fastest growing wireless provider in the market and ultimately into the tremendously successful Un-carrier. As T-Mobile’s Chief Marketing Officer and then COO, Sievert led the design and execution of the 16 Un-carrier “moves” that have defined the company and established T-Mobile as the customer satisfaction leader and most-loved brand in the industry.

Today, in his current role as President and COO, Sievert leads a team of tens of thousands of customer-focused disruptors and innovators who are changing the rules of wireless every day. He leads all of T-Mobile’s marketing and product groups, and all retail, sales, and customer support groups for all of T-Mobile’s segments and brands, among other responsibilities. In addition, over the past two years he has worked closely with Legere on T-Mobile’s merger planning, integration, and regulatory approval initiatives, with the goal of creating the New T-Mobile by successfully closing the pending acquisition of Sprint. Sievert has also served as a member of the T-Mobile Board of Directors for nearly 2 years.

Sievert and T-Mobile are dedicated to continuing and supercharging the Un-carrier strategy as the New T-Mobile.

“I have had the opportunity to get to know Mike both personally and professionally over our years of working together, and I am very pleased to be welcoming him to his impending new role,” commented Tim Höttges. “He has been actively involved in all our most important corporate decisions since he joined T-Mobile in 2012. Mike is an experienced, passionate, and results-oriented leader, who cares deeply about our employees and customers and lives the Un-carrier values of the T-Mobile brand every day. He has the support of John Legere and the full confidence of the Board.”

“I hired Mike in 2012 and I have great confidence in him. I have mentored him as he took on increasingly broad responsibilities, and he is absolutely the right choice as T-Mobile’s next CEO,” said John Legere. “Mike is well prepared to lead T-Mobile into the future. He has a deep understanding of where T-Mobile has been and where it needs to go to remain the most innovative company in the industry. I am extremely proud of the culture and enthusiasm we have built around challenging the status quo and our ongoing commitment to putting customers first. Together, these attributes have distinguished T-Mobile in the marketplace and on Wall Street, giving us a powerful business advantage that is instilled throughout every level of T-Mobile. I am confident it will thrive under Mike’s leadership.”

“In the months ahead, my focus will be on ensuring a smooth leadership transition and continuing to work closely with the Board and Mike to complete the Sprint transaction,” added John Legere. “This merger will create the New T-Mobile – a company that is uniquely positioned to continue disrupting the wireless category – and beyond. This marks the beginning of a dynamic new chapter for T-Mobile.”

“I am very grateful to Tim and the Board for this exciting opportunity to lead T-Mobile into the future,” commented Mike Sievert. “I personally want to thank John for all he has done for me and for the T-Mobile brand, our customers, employees, partners, and investors. John is a one-of-a-kind, visionary leader who has redefined the role of CEO and demonstrated how to use it to create positive change for customers, employees, and investors alike. I have been fortunate to work together with him to build T-Mobile’s purpose-driven strategy to address customer pain points, an approach that has been the foundation for our unprecedented growth.”

“The Un-carrier culture, which all our employees live every day, will not change,” continued Mike Sievert. “T-Mobile is not just about one individual. Our company is built around an extraordinarily capable management team and thousands of talented, committed, and customer-obsessed employees. Going forward, my mission is to build on T-Mobile’s industry-leading reputation for empowering employees to deliver an outstanding customer experience and to position T-Mobile not only as the leading mobile carrier, but as one of the most admired companies in America.”