TracFone is looking for an interim leader after founder and CEO F.J. Pollak passed away in April.
Pollak, who rarely gave interviews and didn't overly attend trade shows, died in Miami following an 18-month battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 53 years old.
Pollak launched TracFone in 1996 under the name Topp Telecom. After just a few years the company managed to ink wireless service deals with many of the nation's major wireless network operators, and sold its prepaid Nokia (NYSE:NOK) and Motorola phones in 15,000 retail outlets nationwide.
Pollak then attracted the attention of billionaire Carlos Slim's Telefonos de Mexico, which purchased a controlling interest in Topp for $57.5 million in 1999. The next year Telefonos de Mexico became América Móvil and Topp became TracFone, and Pollak continued to lead the MVNO.
Under Pollak's direction, TracFone became the nation's largest MVNO, claiming nearly 26 million customers. The company offers services through all four major mobile carriers in the U.S., and Verizon (NYSE: VZ) CFO Fran Shammo said recently that the nation's largest operator considers TracFone "our prepaid offering."
TracFone was an early player in the market for discount MVNO services, and it leverages its partnerships with multiple carriers to shift its service to whichever network operator offers the best wholesale rates at the time. TracFone also offers multiple brands and has wide distribution through big-box retailers such as Walmart.
FierceWireless named Pollak one of the 25 most powerful people in the U.S. wireless industry in 2012. True to form, he declined to speak to FierceWireless at the time.
A spokesman said TracFone "is currently evaluating an interim chief executive officer and succession planning."
- see this Miami Herald article
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