Sprint CEO fires COO wholesale chief as he looks for a flatter, leaner MNO

In the wake of the collapse of its latest merger talks with T-Mobile USA, Sprint is undergoing one of its periodic reorganizations. CEO Marcelo Claure has realigned the senior management structure, reducing the number of his direct reports and letting some key executives, including the operator’s first ever COO, Günther Ottendorfer.

The appointment of Ottendorfer to the COO role in 2015 was seen as a sign that the operator was trying to tighten up its processes and become more operationally efficient but now Claure seems to be eyeing more streamlined, direct control.

Also departing are SVP of marketing, Jeff Nelson, and Jim Hyde, the president of MVNO and wholesale business. Nelson reported to Roger Solé, who will continue in his role as Sprint’s chief marketing officer for postpaid customers.

“The new structure will enable us to improve the customer experience, increase partner engagement, and bring new ideas to market faster than ever before,” Claure wrote in a company memo obtained by FierceWireless. “We’re taking action now to streamline the leadership team so we’re leaner and stronger.”

Other executives have been promoted. Dow Draper, president of Sprint Prepaid and the architect behind the Virgin Mobile sub-brand relaunch, is to take the new role of chief commercial officer. And Kevin Crull, president of Sprint’s Omnichannel Sales, has been promoted to the role of chief strategy officer.

Claure’s direct reports will be reduced from 16 to nine. Other direct reports include CTO John Saw, President of Sprint Business Jan Geldmacher, COO Nestor Cano, plus Draper and Crull.

Claure also says he is implementing “new, more modern workspaces where high performing teams can achieve their goals. These new workspaces are designed to make it easier for teams to collaborate. Collaboration fuels innovation, and I believe that teams working side-by-side can accomplish anything,” he wrote in his memo to staff.

“As we start this new chapter, we’re building an organization that is flatter, faster and closer than ever to our customers,” he went on. “At the same time, we’re creating an environment where partners can collaborate more easily and are empowered to make the decisions that will enable Sprint’s success.”

Sprint chairman Masayoshi Son, head of its parent company Softbank, said he called off talks with T-Mobile because he did not want to lose control over Sprint, and followed that decision with the announcement that SoftBank would raise its stake in the US MNO and increase its capex from $2bn last year to an eventual high rate of $6bn a year.

“Even if it is tough for the next three or four years, on a five- or 10-year timescale scale Sprint is a strategically indispensable company,” Son told reporters at SoftBank’s earnings briefing earlier this month.