Chutes & Ladders: Lauer leaves Sprint

In the wake of a dismal Q2 earnings report, falling share prices and low subscriber adds, Sprint's COO, Len Lauer is set to depart the company. As one analyst put it, "Someone had to fall on the sword." CEO Gary Forsee will absorb the role. Sprint hired Lauer to tackle the carrier's overabundance of prepaid subscribers, but obviously that problem has not gone away. Many see his departure as a positive one for the company. In the previous quarter Sprint only added 708,000 customer, compared to Cingular's 1.5 million new subs and Verizon Wireless' 1.8 million. Sprint's shares have also fallen about 28 percent since May. Its turnover rate stood at 2.1 percent at the end of last quarter.

According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, one of Lauer's primary responsibilities was to oversee the merger with Nextel, an integration Wall Street has panned for being too slow. Some say Sprint's consumer focus has been tough to merge with Nextel's enterprise bent, but despite that the merged entity should have scooped up the Motorola RAZR much quicker. Nextel had a history of powering Motorola handsets, but Sprint didn't. No official word on whether the departure was resignation or otherwise.

For more on Lauer's departure:
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)