T-Mobile CEO’s strategy explained: Be cheap and do almost anything for attention

T-Mobile CEO Legere Business Strategy

In case you haven’t noticed, T-Mobile CEO John Legere isn’t like most wireless industry executives. For one, he’s actually entertaining to listen to because he’s not afraid to trash his competitors in candid and at times profane terms. This is all part of a carefully constructed strategy, however, and a profile on Legere at The Wall Street Journal makes clear that Legere thinks that he needs to draw attention to himself if he’s going to have any chance of drawing customers away from Verizon and AT&T. In particular the Journal notes that after becoming T-Mobile CEO, Legere “grew his hair out, traded his ties for T-shirts and has started sprinkling his public comments with profanity” to make himself stand out.

In addition to bringing a scrappy, off-the-cuff persona to the job, Legere is also bringing another key trait to T-Mobile that he thinks will help turn the company around: Cheapness. The Journal informs us that at his previous job as CEO of Global Crossing, Legere “cut capital spending… to about $250 million in 2002 from $3.2 billion the year before, reduced the company’s workforce by more than half and relocated its headquarters from Beverly Hills, Calif., to New Jersey — first to upscale Madison, but then to lower-cost Florham Park.”

At T-Mobile, meanwhile, the Journal reports that Legere “still uses an old Global Crossing backpack as his briefcase” and “has swapped out free sodas in T-Mobile’s corporate offices for vending machines, halted merit-based pay increases and brought an end to a program that gave longer-term employees free phones.” Legere tells the Journal that his essential “philosophy” is that “it should not only be cheap, but it should look cheap,” which could fit in well with T-Mobile’s strategy of offering cheaper, contract-free wireless voice and data plans as its major selling point against rival carriers.

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