Sprint's new CEO Marcelo Claure has accepted the very demanding job of turning around the nation's third largest carrier…quite a huge task, but one that maybe only he can do. Now 43 years old, he grew up as a child in Brazil where he started his entrepreneurial skills out of necessity – to make money in the very poor country. He started at age 10 by selling and buying his mother's clothes outside his home in La Paz, Bolivia. He immigrated to the U.S. and became a student at Bentley College where he bought and sold frequent flier miles to earn money. He helped take Bolivia to the World Cup after a 44-year absence, and it was after that he said, "Big dreams can move mountains." When he returned to the U.S. in 1995, the wireless industry was just getting its start and he bought USA Wireless – a retailer. He sold it a year later and moved to Miami to launch Brightstar and after growing it, Softbank, owners of Sprint, agreed to purchase a 57-percent stake. Now that Claure has joined Sprint, Softbank said they would acquire the remaining amount of Brightstar.
Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son said, "Marcelo is a successful entrepreneur who transformed a start-up into a global telecommunications company." Son and Claure really hit it off when SoftBank initially bought a stake in Brightstar and Claure joined Sprint's board. They have a much better working relationship than Son ever had with outgoing CEO Don Hesse – probably because Son and Claure share the same type of 'can do' attitude and their willingness to think outside the box. This is in deep contrast to Hesse's more conservative and methodical approach. With Claure at the helm, we can expect to see Sprint go on the offensive, much like John Legere of T-Mobile fame.
Stock prices are generally a good indicator of how investors believe a CEO will do at his job, but with Sprint's stocks it is hard to tell because of the failed Sprint and T-Mobile merger – Sprint's shares went down nearly 20-percent to only $5.90. However, analysts consider the promoting of Claure a step in the right direction for Sprint. Kevin Manning, an analyst at BMO Capital Markets said, "Claure has a worldwide network of industry contacts to draw upon and has been on the Sprint board since January [and that] should enable him to hit the ground running."
There are other reasons that Sprint may be through the worst part of their turnaround – the hardest part of their network upgrade is out of the way by closing down Nextel and upgrading its 3G network with the new Sprint Spark, an enhance LTE network. It uses three bands of spectrum for better capacity and faster speeds. Also, they finally have a CEO and Chairman that are on the same page and can move forward rather than stand-still bickering. In his farewell memo, Hesse said, "A 'controlled entity' like Sprint can be most effective when the majority owner and the CEO are fully aligned and are great partners. Marcelo and Masa enjoy an exceptional relationship which has grown out of mutual respect between two very successful entrepreneurs."
It sounds like Hesse knew it was time to go and it looks like Claure is exactly what Sprint needed – maybe they will even get rid of those ridiculous Framily commercials…we can only hope. It will be an exciting time for Sprint and it will be very interesting to keep our eye on how fast changes take place. It should be fun to see the Sprint-Claure team go up against the T-Mobile-Legere team…it may be a wireless version of the World Cup. Claure said:
"When you're an entrepreneur, you're always going to try to do things outside the box. I plan to apply the same methodology that we learned at Brightstar, in terms of figuring out how to make Sprint more of an entrepreneurial company and find different ways, different products and different services to try to change the game."
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