T-Mobile CEO John Legere isn’t waiting to complete the carrier’s Sprint merger to announce his departure. On Monday, Legere announced to his 6.5 million Twitter followers that he’ll step down on May 1, 2020 and that COO and President Mike Sievert will be his successor. A press release says the transition is part of a “well-established succession planning process” by T-Mobile’s board.
Legere didn’t say where he was going next, though the Wall Street Journal reported last week that he was in talks to become the next CEO of WeWork. CNBC later reported that Legere would not take the WeWork job and had no plans to leave T-Mobile, so at least one part of that story has not held up.
While it’s rare for wireless carrier executives to become popular public figures, Legere quickly became a mascot of sorts for T-Mobile after becoming the company’s CEO in 2012. Coming off a failed merger with AT&T, Legere rebranded T-Mobile as an “Un-carrier” that was unafraid to throw sand at its larger rivals. The company led the way in eliminating long-term contracts, lowering prices, and restoring unlimited data plans (albeit with some limits), and Legere took on the role of public cheerleader, often wearing leather jackets and magenta undershirts.
‼️You’ve heard me joke that he’s “my son,” but in reality, since I hired him in 2012, @SievertMike‘s been my mentee, my secret weapon and my friend. In our time we’ve launched 16 #uncarrier moves, shifted an archaic industry for consumers and wreaked havoc on the competition. pic.twitter.com/7MyX4i1vjd
— John Legere (@JohnLegere) November 18, 2019
That consumer-friendly image has become tougher to maintain, however, as T-Mobile tries to merge with Sprint. While the companies argue that a combined entity would provide better coverage compared to AT&T and Verizon, critics point to a long history of mergers producing higher prices and worse service. Both the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission have already approved the merger, leaving lawsuits by several state attorneys general as the biggest remaining obstacle.
However that plays out, T-Mobile says it will continue to go to bat for customers once Legere departs.
“The Un-carrier culture, which all our employees live every day, will not change,” Sievert says in the company’s press erlease. “T-Mobile is not just about one individual.”