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Rebel T-Mobile CEO has competitors scrambling, Wall Street cheering


For a man who has spent most of his professional life working in the telecom industry, you could say the time has arrived for John Legere to be in the spotlight. And by all accounts, the 55-year old CEO of T-Mobile (TMUS) is just fine with that.

In the past week alone, Legere (pronounced “ledger”) has been gleefully rocking the boat at the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas, where he was bounced from a concert sponsored by rival AT&T, delivered a profanity-laden speech in a pink tee-shirt while sipping a highly caffeinated energy drink, all the while driving around in a black Cadillac Escalade festooned with a pink Batman logo and taunting his competitors and baffling his fans via Twitter.

“He is definitely shaking things up,” Yahoo Finance tech reporter Aaron Pressman says in the attached video. “There is a plan behind all of this. He is not just shooting from the hip.”

Legere makes no secret about the fact the he wants “to take over the whole (wireless) industry,” as he continues to swipe competitors’ customers by challenging everything, even throwing out a company ban on employee tattoos and piercing at T-Mobile stores. “That just wasn’t consistent with who we are. We want the young customers, the ones who want to be a little bit different,” Legere told the New York Times

While still a distant third to industry titans AT&T (T) and Verizon (VZ), you could argue that Legere is not only succeeding, but gaining speed, as the number of new people “turning pink”, so to speak, topped 1.6 million last quarter, compared to an exodus of 32,000 subscribers the year before. And this was before the company’s latest salvo was fired, which will reimburse new customers for any early termination fees they would face by leaving their current carrier.

Legere is not only grabbing the attention of his rivals but he’s also gaining fans on Wall Street. In just 15 short months as CEO, this maverick leader has seen T-Mobile complete a merger with Metro PCS, not long after being left at the altar by AT&T after the Justice Department blocked their merger. Since bottoming out in May, shares of T-Mobile have doubled at a time when the S&P 500 (^GSPC) rose 20%, and its top two rivals both actually declined a bit.

Given Legere’s flamboyance, his love of the spotlight, his youthful flare, his efforts to topple a top-heavy business, it may come as no surprise to hear comparisons being made to British mogul Richard Branson. 

“I think his sights are just getting wider and wider,” Pressman says, of this one of a kind “un-CEO” of the “un-carrier” who has already had an impact on every cell phone user in America, whether you’re a T-Mobile customer or not.

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