T-Mobile’s Mike Sievert is CNN’s Business Executive of the Year

New York

Investors in 2022 saw a lot of red. But the company, known for its purple logo, has been the darling of the stock market this year.

T-Mobile (TMUS) Stock 2022 rose about 20% even as rivals AT&T ( T ) and Verizon ( VZ ) declined. Ma Bell fell about 2%, while Verizon ( VZ ) fell more than 25%.

T-Mobile is also now worth about $175 billion. USD, more than Verizon and AT&T, both of which are Dow components. T-Mobile’s strong performance on Wall Street was one of the main reasons CEO Mike Sievert was named CEO of the Year by CNN Business.

Sievert beat out several other challengers, including Hershey’s ( HSY ) Michele Buck, Occidental Petroleum’s ( OXY ) Vicki Hollub and IBM’s ( IBM ) Arvind Krishna. He joins the 2021 CEO of the Year winner Alberto Bourla of Pfizer ( PFE ) and previous winners Marc Benioff of Salesforce ( CRM ), Target ( TGT ) CEO Brian Cornell, and Chipotle’s ( CMG ) Brian Niccolo.

Despite many economic challenges, including inflation, T-Mobile had an impressive year. The company continued to increase market share at the expense of its competitors.

It has also spent more money to boost the country’s 5G coverage and has struck several noteworthy partnerships, including one with Elon Musk’s SpaceX, to attract more customers.

CNN Business spoke with Sievert about how T-Mobile has continued to excel in a highly competitive business.

Sievert said the company knows “consumers are afraid of inflation.” That’s why T-Mobile is trying to lower prices even as competitors have raised the cost of many of their plans as inflation has eroded their profitability.

T-Mobile is even continuing to cover the cost of Netflix ( NFLX ) subscriptions for its subscribers after the streaming media giant raised prices.

“It’s just another example of how we’re investing heavily in our customers, changing the industry for them, putting them first and investing in them,” Sievert said.

The strategy is working. T-Mobile, following its merger with Sprint in 2020, is now the second largest wireless carrier in the US, ahead of AT&T and behind only Verizon.

The company has about 112 million customers and is adding subscribers faster than both of its main competitors. in 2021 data breach for which T-Mobile paid $350 million this year

However, there are some concerns. Sievert said inflation is among them, mostly among its employees. He explained that the company had increased workers’ wages to take account of rising prices. That has increased costs, but Sievert said T-Mobile is less concerned about inflation than other consumer companies.

“We’re somewhat insulated from inflation,” he said, adding that T-Mobile’s average revenue per customer increased this year not because of price increases, but because one of the company’s more popular plans has higher prices. service that offers more features.

Growing worries about a recession are also an issue, although Sievert said that “we don’t think it’s a foregone conclusion that a recession is coming. But we are ready if it is.

Sievert noted that wireless users are likely to be very reluctant to use their phones even if the economy turns south. As a result, any decline next year could be smaller than in 2008-09. The Great Recession for Cell Phone Companies.

“We’re in a category that people will keep. This is very different from 2008. before the smartphone revolution. People will stick to wireless,” he said.

It helps that wireless technology is much more advanced now than it was 14 years ago. Sievert said T-Mobile could also have taken advantage of spending heavily in wireless spectrum auctions to fill out the 5G coverage map across the country.

“It’s about more devices connecting customers to devices that serve all of their life’s purposes, including the rapid growth of 5G home broadband,” Sievert said.

“We feel very fortunate to have a huge, multi-year lead in the 5G race in this category,” he noted, adding that T-Mobile was “dead last” in the 4G market not too long ago.

But AT&T and Verizon are also improving their 5G coverage plans. And let’s be honest. There’s no need to differentiate one wireless carrier from another so much anymore. Almost all of them offer the same new and popular phones from Samsung ( SSNLF ) and the latest Apple iPhone 14 ( AAPL ).

Enter SpaceX. Earlier this year, T-Mobile announced a joint venture with Musk’s launch company to use SpaceX’s Starlink satellites to bring wireless service to areas with little or no coverage.

“The idea of ​​connecting wherever you see the sky could be groundbreaking,” Sievert said. “Now we’re working together to create a service that connects your cell phone directly to a satellite,” he said.

Sivert said he and Musk worked together “multiple times” to make the deal a success, adding that he was impressed by the “mission-driven” nature of Musk and the entire SpaceX leadership team.

“You can just feel the passion when you talk to Elon or any senior person at SpaceX that they really believe in the importance of what they’re doing for humanity,” he said.

Sieverts, who has been with T-Mobile since 2012, will retire in 2020. took over as CEO from longtime CEO John Legere. Sievert may be a little less flamboyant and flamboyant than Legere, who was known for taunting his rivals, not to mention his rock star-length hair and penchant for leather jackets.

Still, Sievert is confident the company will continue to grow. To that end, he’s not worried about cable companies also trying to cash in on the wireless boom. Both Comcast ( CMCSA ) and Charter ( CHTR ) have agreements with Verizon to offer cell phone service on Verizon’s network.

Sivert said he respects cable competition.

“These are very successful companies that take the space very seriously,” he said. “But I’d rather be a mobile company using advanced 5G technology to challenge the cable space than the other way around.”

But Sievert isn’t too worried about them hindering T-Mobile’s growth.

“Cable has been using wireless for years, and they’ve had some success,” he said. But he added that it was more at the lower end of the market.

Instead, T-Mobile wants to keep trying to attract more subscribers willing to pay for premium plans. Sievert said T-Mobile can do this by continuing to promote itself as a so-called “non-carrier,” differentiating itself from all of its competitors. This includes heavy use of the bright purple logo.

Sievert even joked that Pantone had just named Viva Magenta its color of the year.

“We are trending in 2022 and 2023,” he said. “But it’s been part of our imagery for a long time. And we want people to see at first glance that our company is a little different from everyone else. It’s not a tired and stale old phone. It’s a technology company that’s very passionate about what we do.

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