Sprint's (NYSE: S) incoming CEO Marcelo Claure, who will succeed Dan Hesse on Monday, was handpicked for the role by Sprint Chairman and SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son. The Bolivian-born Claure will now need to prove that he is right person to keep Sprint's turnaround chugging forward now that the carrier has abandoned plans to merge with T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS).
Claure, 43, has been described as aggressive and entrepreneurial. He founded wireless device distributor Brightstar Corp. in 1997 and grew the business to $10.5 billion in revenue last year, according to USA Today, with operations in more than 125 countries.
SoftBank agreed last fall to take a 57 percent stake in Brightstar Corp. for $1.26 billion, and Claure joined Sprint's board in January. Claure will resign from his position at Brightstar and SoftBank announced it would acquire Claure's remaining interest in the company.
Claure first met Son in Tokyo two years ago, a SoftBank spokesman told the Wall Street Journal. The meeting was supposed to be a quick introduction, but as Claure explained Brightstar's business of buying and reselling used phones, Son pushed Claure to delay his flight home and the two worked out plans to launch a used phone buyback program in Japan. In 2013, as Claure was thinking of going on the road to try and sell Brightstar, Son offered to buy the firm himself.
"Marcelo is a successful entrepreneur who transformed a start-up into a global telecommunications company. He has the management experience, passion and drive to create the strongest network and offer the best products and services in the wireless industry," Sprint Chairman and SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son said in a statement.
Angelo Zino, an analyst with financial research firm S&P Capital IQ, told USA Today that compared with Hesse, Claure "seems much more driven, given where he is in his life." Zino added: "He is going to have to be a lot more aggressive on pricing and give the consumer what they want."
Within Sprint, according to the Journal, Claure became seen as the "natural choice" to lead Sprint, according to an unnamed source familiar with the matter. Claure still ran Brightstar from Miami, but often visited Sprint's headquarters in Overland Park, Kan., as a board member to examine the company's finances and operations.
That caused Sprint employees to wonder why he was spending so much time hanging around, an unnamed Sprint executive told the Journal. The report said Sprint never searched for other candidates to succeed Hesse.
Claure and Son, both entrepreneurs at heart, seemed to be more on the same wavelength than Son and Hesse. According to CNET, which cited an unnamed source, Hesse and Son were often at loggerheads, with Son more willing to take risks and be aggressive and Hesse playing a more cautious and methodical role.
However, Hesse seemed on board with the move, according to an internal company memo he sent out that was obtained by CNET. "With the most difficult part of the Network Vision build behind us, Sprint is about ready to begin growing again," Hesse wrote. "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. This is the right time in Sprint's evolution for Marcelo to take the reins and get the most benefit from our relationship with SoftBank."
- see this USA Today article
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this CNET article
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