UPDATE: The tournament is now over. Click here for the results.
Just like we did last year, we’re letting you decide who is the most powerful person in the U.S. telecom industry for 2017.
Every day this week we’re going to run a new round of voting in a tournament-style bracket. Voting starts first thing each morning as soon as each new matchup is published, and ends roughly 24 hours later. By Monday of next week we’ll announce the winner. We’re going to use Polldaddy.com for the actual voting, and repeated voting is going to be prohibited with a block to cookies and IP addresses.
The first bracket is below, and underneath that are the actual matchups that you can vote on. Then, below that, you’ll find the full list of candidates for the position (as selected by the Fierce editorial team) and a short write-up explaining why each of them is on the list. (And for you sports fans out there, the seedings are mostly random and don't indicate favorites; we were more interested in creating exciting first-round matchups.)
For those of you keeping score, this is an annual feature that we publish at the end of each year. In 2014, for example, the Fierce editorial team selected FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler as the industry’s most powerful person, mainly because of his efforts to impose net neutrality guidelines on internet service providers. Before that, we selected Tim Cook as the industry’s most powerful person, largely due to the company’s success with the iPhone.
Last year, we opened up the list to you so that you could decide who the most powerful person in the industry was. After a week of lots and lots of voting, T-Mobile CEO John Legere ended up against Google CEO Larry Page in the last voting bracket. But the final tally wasn’t close: Legere received around 92% of the roughly 7,000 total votes cast, winning the title of Most Powerful Exec in the telecom industry for 2016.
Will Legere win again in 2017? That’s up to you.
So how should you determine who is the “most powerful” person in the telecom industry? You can vote based on the number of actual end users each executive counts at his or her company, or by the amount of cash they spend in a given year, or by the types of transactions they’ve attempted or closed, or by the innovations they’ve brought to market. Maybe it’s just someone you admire. It’s up to you.
- Masayoshi Son: As the chief of Japan’s SoftBank, Son recently rejected the notion of a combination between Sprint and T-Mobile in order to double down on the idea that everything in the future will be connected, and that Sprint would play a part in that.
- Charlie Ergen: As the chief executive of Dish Network, Ergen oversees Dish’s existing satellite TV business and its Sling TV streaming effort, as well as Dish’s massive trove of wireless spectrum.
- Jeff Bezos: As head of Amazon, Bezos is involved in selling an incredibly wide range of physical goods, electronics and digital services, including streaming video, cable subscriptions and a growing range of discounted phones.
- Hu Meena: As the head of C Spire, the nation’s largest privately held wireless carrier, Meena has been quietly pushing C Spire onto the forefront of technologies ranging from video to fiber to fixed wireless.
- Rajeev Suri: As the chief executive of Nokia, Suri controls one of the world’s largest network equipment vendors, and has been a leading voice in the transition to small cells and 5G.
- Larry Page: As CEO of internet search giant Google, Page oversees a wide range of businesses under the Alphabet corporate umbrella, stretching from Android to YouTube to Google Fiber.
- Jeff Storey: Storey will take over CenturyLink this year after Glen Post retires, giving him control of a newly combined CenturyLink and Level 3—one of the largest suppliers of broadband internet in the country.
- Chuck Robbins: As CEO of Cisco, Robbins guides the strategy of one of the world’s largest vendors for wireless and cable equipment and services—as well as a company working to shift from a hardware stance to one selling mostly software.
- Randall Stephenson: As head of AT&T, Stephenson is in the process of expanding AT&T’s wireless and video services—including the company’s DirecTV Now streaming offering—as well as fighting to complete AT&T’s tumultuous attempt to purchase Time Warner.
- Patrick Drahi: As the chief executive of France’s Altice, Drahi is guiding the company’s entry into the U.S. cable market and—through Altice’s recent MVNO deal with Sprint—the operator’s nascent wireless efforts.
- Steve Mollenkopf: As CEO of the world’s leading mobile silicon vendor, Mollenkopf is working to expand Qualcomm’s operations while finalizing the company’s acquisition of NXP, and is concurrently working to repel a takeover bid by Broadcom while juggling a patent-infringement fight against Apple.
- John Legere: As CEO of T-Mobile, the nation’s third largest wireless carrier, Legere is working to evaluate T-Mobile’s strategic options following the collapse of a potential merger with Sprint, while also pushing the “uncarrier” strategy that has generated significant success.
- Reed Hastings: As the head of Netflix, Hastings guides the world’s most prominent video streaming provider.
- Brian Roberts: As head of Comcast, Roberts is leading the nation’s largest cable operator as it upgrades its network, invests in its X1 platform and reaches into adjacent industries like wireless and the IoT.
- Ajit Pai: As head of the FCC, Pai is reshaping the nation’s telecommunications regulator away from controversial topics like net neutrality guidelines and set-top box regulation.
- Tom Rutledge: As chief executive of Charter Communications, Rutledge controls the nation’s second-largest cable operator and has made clear his intention to get into the wireless industry.
- Mark Zuckerberg: As the CEO of Facebook, Zuckerberg controls not only Facebook’s social networking business but also the company’s growing efforts in the video sector and the wireless networks arena.
- Marcelo Claure: As chief of Sprint, Claure is overseeing the company’s efforts to return to growth – and its future following the breakdown of merger talks with T-Mobile – as Sprint builds out its network with a significant new investment from parent SoftBank.
- Tim Baxter: As the newly installed head of Samsung Electronics North America, Baxter is responsible for the company’s long-term strategy for the region, including in mobile devices and network equipment.
- Greg Wyler: As the winner of the FierceWireless 2017 Rising Stars vote, Wyler heads satellite company OneWeb that’s working to beam high-speed internet into the United States and globally.
- Tim Hoettges: Deutsche Telekom owns a 64% stake in T-Mobile in the United States, giving CEO Hoettges a leading voice in potential M&A activity.
- Tim Cook: As CEO of Apple, Cook oversees the company’s iPhone business as well as its computer, tablet and smart watch efforts.
- Borje Ekholm: As the chief executive of Ericsson, Ekholm has been tasked with reinvigorating Ericsson’s network equipment business.
- Dan Caruso: As the head of Zayo, Caruso controls one of the most high-profile fiber providers in the United States.
- Lowell McAdam: As CEO of Verizon, McAdam continues to work to expand Verizon’s various businesses, including its move to 5G and its expansion into advertising technology.
- Bruce McClelland: As the CEO of Arris, McClelland oversees the sale of cable equipment as well as wireless gear through Arris’ purchase of Ruckus.