Sprint chairman calls it quits

Marketplace Staff Oct 10, 2006

KAI RYSSDAL: Sprint Nextel is the number three U.S. cell phone company. Not a *bad position to be in. But it’s a cutthroat industry. Sprint’s been having a rough year. And it got a little rougher today. The company announced the executive chairman of board, Tim Donahue, wants to spend more time with his family. Diantha Parker reports.

DIANTHA PARKER: Donahue oversaw the merger of Sprint and Nextel about a year ago, but independent telecom analyst Jeff Kagan says it’s common for one CEO to bow out when two of them are eligible for the corner office.

JEFF KAGAN: It’s like getting two captains on the bridge. There’s really only room in a company for one.

Donahue took a more deferential tone in a company statement, saying he’ll start cheering Sprint Nextel along from the sidelines.

Remember those ads that showed a pin dropping in front of an old school telephone receiver? Sprint would prefer you didn’t.

Over the past five years, it’s changed from a local and long-distance phone service company to one that’s now the third-largest wireless provider in the U.S.

In the midst of that transition, Sprint has stepped into a very competitive industry, says Scott Cleland of the telecom research firm The Precursor Group.

SCOTT CLELAND: The marketplace wants immediate gratification, and if it’s surprised or doesn’t get what it wants, it’s very unforgiving.

The company won’t say when they’ll name a replacement. But analysts expect it’ll be someone with experience in Sprint Nextel’s new business: wireless and Internet service.

In Los Angeles, I’m Diantha Parker for Marketplace.

We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.

Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.

In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.

Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.