T-Mobile USA reported that CEO Philipp Humm resigned effectively immediately, with current COO Jim Alling assuming the CEO responsibilities on an interim basis as the carrier looks for a new leader. Humm left the Deutsche Telekom umbrella for Vodafone, joining DT’s rival as CEO of its Northern and Central European operations effective Oct. 1.
Humm previously served in various management positions across Europe for DT before moving to handle the telecom giant’s North American operations.
“[Humm's] appeal is not so much for what he did or did not do during his time at T-Mobile USA, rather it is about getting someone who understands Vodafone’s northern European markets well, and someone who can hit the ground running from the start,” noted Emeka Obiodu, senior telecoms strategy analyst at Ovum, in a statement.
Perhaps taking a dig at Humm, DT CEO Rene Obermann noted in a statement: “Now we need somebody who can convert initiatives into market-successes.”
On joining Vodafone, Humm looks to have supplied an equal re-tort: ““Vodafone is a powerful brand with a strong focus on the customer coupled with a clear strategy for growth. I look forward to joining the team,” Humm noted in a statement.
Humm took over the CEO position at T-Mobile USA in late 2010, replacing former CEO Robert Dotson. Humm leadership quickly evolved into a massive network and marketing initiative announced in early 2011, that was quickly usurped by AT&T’s eventually unsuccessful $39 billion acquisition attempt that stalled the carrier’s efforts for most of 2011. Earlier this year T-Mobile USA re-launched its aggressive positioning in the domestic mobile space announcing a significant network overhaul that will include the rollout of LTE service and marketing efforts designed to re-establish its agitator role in the space.
That aggressiveness had originally included vocal opposition to proposed spectrum deals launched by larger rival Verizon Wireless, which earlier this week fell by the wayside as T-Mobile USA announced a spectrum swap deal with the nation’s largest wireless operator.
T-Mobile USA earlier this year lost Chief Marketing Officer Cole Broadman, who was moved from his previous position as CTO at the same time Humm was named CEO.
Obermann noted earlier this year that it was unlikely DT would unload its U.S. operations, though rumors continue to circulate about a potential partnership. Humm’s decision could signal a new shift for the carrier, which has had its fair share of distractions.
Bottom Line: Humm’s decision comes at a critical time for T-Mobile USA which is in the midst of trying to re-establish its credibility in the domestic wireless space following its lost 2011 (thanks AT&T!). Recent announcements regarding LTE plans, a network overhaul and more recently a spectrum swap with Verizon Wireless show that the carrier is not afraid of making bold moves, but the loss of its leader shows that all is not well internally.
DT’s decision on T-Mobile USA’s next leader will be crucial for the company in trying to re-assure analysts and the wireless community that the company’s plans remain on track. That leader’s qualifications will also be closely scrutinized in order to discern T-Mobile USA’s future direction, with increasing rumors surrounding either a network tie-up with another wireless operator or a potential initial public offering in order to generate much-needed fiscal resources to continue its evolution.
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