Dan Schulman, the head of Sprint Nextel's (NYSE:S) prepaid business, is leaving the company, effective Aug. 23. His departure comes shortly after Sprint launched its new multi-pronged prepaid strategy that was created partly of Sprint's acquisition of Virgin Mobile USA, which was headed by Schulman.
Sprint said Schulman will become an executive at American Express. Bob Johnson, currently the head of Sprint's consumer organization, will take over Sprint's prepaid go-to-market strategy. Leigh Horner, a Sprint spokeswoman, said Schulman is leaving because of the "phenomenal" opportunity at American Express, where he will be the group president for enterprise growth. She said the fact that Schulman is leaving shortly after Sprint's launch of its new prepaid brands is coincidental.
"It had nothing to do with what is going on at Sprint Nextel and everything to do with the opportunity for Dan," she told FierceWireless, adding that Schulman and Sprint CEO Dan Hesse have an excellent relationship.
Sprint currently has four main prepaid brands: Boost Mobile; the re-launched Virgin Mobile brand; Common Cents Mobile, which is aimed at the pay-per-minute prepaid market; and Assurance Wireless, which is aimed at low-income customers. Last week Virgin Mobile launched a "sub-brand" called PayLo, which targets budget-conscious consumers with two cheap plans.
There may be more prepaid moves in store for Sprint later this year. Hesse has indicated that the carrier might launch a prepaid 4G service on Clearwire's (NASDAQ:CLWR) mobile WiMAX network. Horner said Schulman's exit will not change Sprint's focus on prepaid. "We are moving forward with those very specific brand offerings and looking to really take prepaid more into the mainstream," she said." There's no change in strategy or direction as a result of [Schulman leaving]."
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