Clearwire Swaps Out CEO
Morrow steps into the CEO shoes just as the operator plunges into a plan to deliver mobile WiMax to a potential 120 million customers by the end of 2010. (See Clearwire Preps $1.5B Deployment in '09.) "Clearwire is moving into the stage in which it is going to create a national-scale network," Clearwire and Trilogy Partners director, John Stanton, said on a call Monday afternoon. "[Morrow's] primary task initially -- and over the next couple of years -- will be to grow the business to scale."
Wolff, meanwhile, will continue to focus on "financing and strategy" while working with Clearwire's heavy-hitting partners. Clearwire focused on the fact that Wolff has raised "more than $6 billion in equity and debt financing" while building partnerships with Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC), and major U.S. cable companies.
Stanton brushed off a question about the timing of the executive change, which happened just days after a confident-sounding Wolff talked up Clearwire's expansion plans on the firm's fourth-quarter earnings call. Stanton simply said that now is a "good time" for the move.
Instead, Stanton focused on Morrow's extensive telecom experience. Morrow has served as CEO of Vodafone Europe, head of Vodafone UK, and president of Vodafone KK in Japan, prior to his most recent post as president and CEO of Pacific Gas & Electric in San Francisco. Stanton said that there was a lot to be learned from wireless operators outside the U.S. and described Morrow as "a terrific new operating talent." (See Vodafone Shuffles the Deck and Vodafone’s 3G Outing.)
This doesn't mean, however, that Clearwire will be doing anything in particular with its European spectrum holdings. Stanton stressed a couple of times on the call that Morrow is being called on to help Clearwire's expansion in the U.S Over the next two years or so, Clearwire faces the challenge of being the first to deploy a nationwide WiMax network in the States against competition from larger rival Verizon Wireless , which plans to start commercial services using rival Long Term Evolution (LTE) wireless broadband technology in 2010. (See MWC 2009: Verizon Picks LTE Vendors.) — Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung