T-Mobile's rise to where it now stands as the most innovative and fastest-growing of the four major U.S. wireless carriers started when the company hired John Legere as CEO and president in 2012 (he turned over the presidency to Mike Sievert in 2018). It is hard to imagine a T-Mobile without Legere and his rule-breaking behavior. He wears his hair rock-star long, eschews suits and ties for magenta t-shirts and doesn't mind insulting the competition. But it all works! Earlier this year Legere was named the best wireless executive in the U.S. for the fifth consecutive year
And now that the 61-year old executive is on the cusp of launching the first nationwide 5G network in the states and closing a hard-fought battle to merge with Sprint, he might be leaving the company that he brought into the national spotlight. Today's Wall Street Journal says
that Legere is in talks to become CEO of WeWork. The latter is a real estate development firm that builds facilities for tech start-ups to share. The company was going to go public, but the IPO was canceled after investors questioned the true valuation of the firm. Co-founder and CEO Adam Neumann resigned and last month the majority owner of Sprint (for now) SoftBank stepped in with a huge investment. SoftBank also installed Sprint chairman Marcelo Claure as chairman of WeWork.
Claure, who once called Legere a con man, had grown to know him better when both buried the hatchet over the T-Mobile-Sprint merger. And now Claure is reportedly talking to Legere about taking the CEO position at a company that lost $2 billion last year. Now keep in mind that even if Legere is offered this job, there is no guarantee that he would take it. But SoftBank, which has $18 billion invested in WeWork, also knows full well about what Legere can do through its majority ownership of Sprint. They need someone who can successfully turnaround the company and Legere has already had one amazing turnaround to his credit.
Legere joined T-Mobile a year after AT&T failed to acquire the company for $39 billion
According to the Journal report, the new WeWork CEO would be expected to join the company in January. That might be problematic for Legere because it seems possible that the T-Mobile-Sprint merger might not be completed until a lawsuit filed by several state attorney generals seeking to block the deal has been decided. Considering that the trial doesn't begin until December 9th, T-Mobile doesn't expect to be able to close on the merger until next year. On one hand, Legere could leave T-Mobile on a high note having launched the first nationwide 5G network in the U.S. On the other hand, Legere could decide to stay where he is and continue to grow his legacy in the wireless industry.
Claure calls Legere a con man back in 2015
Legere joined T-Mobile the year after its $39 billion acquisition by AT&T failed
. Unable to get regulatory approval, AT&T pulled out of the deal giving T-Mobile a break-up package that included $3 billion, 128 AWS markets and a 7-year 3G roaming deal. Like a craps shooter on a roll, Legere turned these assets into a heavyweight wireless operator. There were quite a few big decisions made along the way; T-Mobile was the first of the four major U.S. carriers to end the practice of subsidized pricing. The executive also is credited with being the first to offer a zero-rated perk for subscribers with its Music Freedom plan. The latter allowed subscribers with a monthly data cap to stream music from certain providers without using their data
. A few months later, T-Mobile introduced Data Stash
, which most everyone knows as rollover data. This allowed subscribers to keep the data they didn't use during a month and add it to their data cap for the following month.
T-Mobile President Mike Sievert and CEO John Legere announce the December 6th launch of the carrier's nationwide 5G network
The carrier was one of the first to bring back unlimited data plans and offers free Netflix service for subscribers with multiple lines on an eligible plan. And it also has one of the longest-running reward programs in wireless with its T-Mobile Tuesday perk.
If Legere does decide to join WeWork, it will be a big loss to T-Mobile and the wireless industry in general.