Clearwire (NASDAQ:CLWR) CEO Bill Morrow will resign and be replaced on an interim basis by Chairman John Stanton. The company said it is looking for a replacement for Morrow, who resigned for unspecified personal reasons. Morrow will continue to serve as an advisor to the company during the transition period.
Stanton, who has been a Clearwire board member since 2008, replaced Clearwire founder Craig McCaw as chairman of the board in January. Stanton served as chairman and CEO of VoiceStream Wireless, which was later sold to Deutsche Telecom and became T-Mobile USA.
Clearwire also said Mike Sievert, the company's chief commercial officer, and Kevin Hart, Clearwire's CIO, are both leaving the company to pursue other opportunities. Both Sievert and Hart will remain with the company for a transition period.
As part of the shakeup, Clearwire said CFO Erik Prusch has been elevated to the newly created COO position. Hope Cochran, Clearwire's senior vice president and treasurer, has been promoted to CFO.
Morrow had been CEO of Clearwire since March 2009, and oversaw the company's mobile WiMAX network expansion. However, the company has foundered recently as it searches for fresh funding. Morrow said in February that the company will announce new funding plans in the second quarter. Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) CEO Dan Hesse said Sprint, the majority owner of Clearwire, has not committed to providing more funding for Clearwire, but said this week that all of Sprint's 4G options include Clearwire as a component.
"The relationship is healthy; the company is healthy," Morrow said in an interview with Bloomberg, declining to comment on why he is leaving. "It's all good."
Sprint has indicated that it might choose to launch LTE technology to supplement Clearwire's WiMAX network; Clearwire has been testing LTE as well.
Separately, Clearwire is in the midst of resolving a wholesale pricing dispute with majority owner Sprint, which the companies expect to resolve soon. "Today's changes in executive leadership are not expected to impact the company's progress on an agreement with Sprint to resolve wholesale pricing disputes," Clearwire said in announcing Morrow's departure. "Clearwire believes that an agreement with Sprint is imminent."
In addition, Clearwire is being sued by customers who have complained about the company's data throttling practices, which Clearwire detailed in October. The lawsuit alleges that the company is not delivering on its offer of high-speed wireless and that it has created a "Ponzi scheme" by not delivering on its service and then collecting early termination fees from customers who leave unsatisfied.
"Our network management practices comply with applicable law and are consistent with our acceptable use policy," Clearwire said in a statement to FierceWireless. "The lawsuit grossly mischaracterizes how we operate our network, and we plan a vigorous defense against the allegations."
Clearwire names John Stanton chairman of the board
Wireless pioneer Craig McCaw resigns from Clearwire board
Sprint's Hesse: All 4G options include Clearwire
Sprint could deploy LTE nationwide by year-end 2013
Clearwire: Resolving dispute with Sprint is key to getting more funding
Sprint: Decision on LTE likely in four to six months