This marks the sixth year that I’ve posted an end-of-the-year blog. It’s always fun to take a look back at some of the biggest moments of the year and then gaze into my magenta crystal ball and make predictions about all sorts of things — mostly how T-Mobile will shake up wireless but also some predictions that even go beyond wireless. Want a walk down memory lane? Check out my past blogs (2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019). And, by the way, even dating back to year one, I have had a pretty good track record (hey — belated thanks for that headline ud83dude09!!)
But there’s something about the turn of a decade that’s really momentous. So, I started jotting down all the things I’m proud of and, well, the list grew and grew … and here it is! Prepare yourself — it’s a long one! But also a ton (almost literally!) of fun.
Here’s my 20 for ’20 (because it’s 2020, there are 20 things, and, well, I’m creative with titles). Take a look — and after you read mine, I want to know, what are yours?!
Happy New Year and Decade!
Moves & Moments that Defined the Decade (in no particular order)
1. We Built the Un-carrier
Out of the ashes of a failed takeover bid by AT&T in late 2011, a struggling T-Mobile got a mix of cash and spectrum that was the first step in our next chapter … and we built the Un-carrier. Just a few months after the failed merger, I joined T-Mobile and got to work rebuilding alongside a great team of leaders — some who were already in place but some who I hired like then-CMO Mike Sievert. Together we zeroed in on one focus: flipping the wireless industry on its head. And that’s EXACTLY what we did. We threw the old playbook away and came up with a whole new way for HOW WE PLAY — listening to our customers, putting those that touch our customers first and calling the other guys out when they don’t do right by consumers. And it’s still how we play to this day! We even wrote a manifesto to give voice to what we coined “the Un-carrier” cause — a rallying cry and clear statement of who T-Mobile is and what we stand for.
Fast forward a bit and we have made 16 customer-focused Un-carrier moves that have turned the wireless industry on its head. I’m proud of every single of one of them, but a few stand out. People told us it was crazy to eliminate taxes and fees … well we did it. Unlimited talk, text and data? Done. Free global data and text in 210+ countries? Check. Giving customers free stuff every Tuesday? Heck yes. I’ve mentioned a few others below, too.
“These bold moves serve notice that T-Mobile is canceling its membership in the out-of-touch wireless club,” I said in early 2013. “This is an industry filled with ridiculously confusing contracts, limits on how much data you can use or when you can upgrade, and monthly bills that make little sense. As America’s Un-carrier, we are changing all of that and bringing common sense to wireless.” Hey, looks like I was onto something!
2. We Built a Bigger, Better, Faster Network
The real turning point for our network was when we lit up LTE in 2013. Up until then, the T-Mobile network was lagging — and it needed a shot in the arm (and then some) if we were going to compete. The thing is, we not only competed ... we blew everyone else away! Thanks to CTO Neville Ray and his amazing team, we became the first to roll out nearly every LTE-Advanced technology, and adding our first low-band 700 MHz spectrum, we were able to expand coverage into underserved areas like Montana and Wyoming — which meant we were able to bring stores and jobs to those areas, too, extending our retail presence to over two-thirds of the country. We were also able to finally go neck and neck with Verizon, covering 99% of Americans — only with faster speeds. We went unlimited, and allowed customers to load up on data … and you know what? As of Q1 2019, we were the fastest network in America — five years in a row! Uncoincidentally, our customers were also the happiest in wireless.
Then, in 2017, we went all in on our 5G future and acquired a whopping 45% of all low-band spectrum auctioned off by the FCC that year — more than any other company. We spent nearly $8 billion, which was our largest investment ever up to that point. We had the base layer for what Neville would first describe at Mobile World Congress in 2018 as our 5G “layer cake” — a mix of low, medium and high-band spectrum that will eventually come from the proposed T-Mobile/Sprint merger and create 5G for ALL. And the first true nationwide 5G network. (More on that below, too!)
3. I Listened … A LOT
Being the Un-carrier means being the Un-CEO. I took a different approach to management and leadership. I love open communication, where every employee knows they will be heard. I love frank and unafraid debate and discussion. I’m out there, with employees and customers, completely open and approachable and plugged in. I know when to shut up and listen. I take full advantage of Twitter and other social platforms to hear from, respond to and engage with fans and customers and employees. I have never wanted to be a typical CEO sitting in an ivory tower and I think I’ve succeeded! How many CEOs do you know that wear a leather jacket and magenta kicks? Nothing typical about that!
4. We Actually Care about Customers
Listen, I’ve said this from day one: our frontline comes first because our customers come first. Period.
I remember when I was interviewed for “The Brave Ones” on CNBC a couple years ago and said: “Nobody calls to say I love you. They call when they’re frustrated…. I heard our people taking care of customers. And it was a big part of me thinking that if I could get the whole company to behave that way, and care about that customer so much, that we really could be different … I firmly believe that almost no other interaction in the company matters besides those two.”
That’s why we gave our Care team full autonomy to handle their customers like clients by creating the industry-leading Team of Experts (TEX) model (an Un-carrier move, by the way). And it’s working! Our Net Promoter Score — which measures the likelihood to recommend a brand — has jumped approximately 60% since we started to roll out TEX in 2016. In the same time period, we cut postpaid phone churn by 39%. We’ve saved more than $100 million to date. Earlier this year we received the highest score in the J.D. Power 2019 U.S. Wireless Customer Care Full-Service Study — Volume 2 — for the fourth time in a row! And, by the way, our employees love it. In 2019 alone, our Care centers won 28 best place to work awards. That is how to take care of customers AND the team that works with them every day!
5. I Made a Mean Pot Roast (Among Other Things…)
Who ever thought my love for pot roast would turn into something huge?! My social media presence was already pretty strong, but I always want to connect with more customers in more ways online, so one Sunday morning I set up my mobile phone on a tripod and decided to go out into the world armed with nothing more than my beloved slow-cooker on Facebook Live.
Most of that debut show was sideways due to my lack of camera phone skills, but about 16,000 people tuned in for that first “Slow Cooker Sunday” (roughly 15,999 more than I expected!). But it was fun and a great way to hear from customers and employees … and I’ve done a show every week since, no matter where I am in the world. Three years and nearly 200 episodes later, I’m reaching 5 million viewers each week!! I’ve done SCS episodes in hotels, airports, T-Mobile stores and our Tech Experience Center here in Bellevue. I even wrote a cookbook that raised $1M for Feeding America — helping to feed 10 million people! — and cooked with celebrity guests like Kate Hudson and Jimmy Fallon. Hey — now that I think about it, maybe I’m ready for the late-night thing. Pressure Cooker Fridays has a nice ring to it … look out, Jimmy!
6. We Got the Last Laugh — and the First!
I love a good-hearted prank, so when we started pulling very Un-carrier April Fool’s pranks every year, my magenta heart was delighted! From Pets Unleashed (a phone plan for Fido) to Binge On Up (a revolutionary hands-free device for 24/7 streaming), the T-Mobile ONEsie (the first full-body wearable) and Phone BoothE (a revolutionary vestibule-like thing for taking calls in public), we’ve sure had some fun.
My favorite was probably when we returned the beloved “Sidekicks” to the Un-carrier — in a slightly different form. And don’t worry — our team prides themselves on being creative — so stay tuned for more in the years ahead!
7. We Created a Culture That Drives for Diversity and Inclusion and One of the Best Places to Work
Making T-Mobile a workplace where anyone can show up as themselves was part of my mission from day one. It’s pretty simple — we need a workforce that is as diverse as our customer base, so we can really understand and address pain points in an honest way. Our employees have a passion for supporting each other like no other place on Earth. So much so that today nearly half of our employees are a member of at least one of six D&I-focused ally groups — that is more than 25,000 employees and a participation rate of nearly 50% — that’s almost double that of most big companies! That climate of acceptance, that goal to be inclusive and be better, plus the actual happiness we see in the workplace has led to a pile of “best place to work” accolades and awards … and they keep coming! Just imagine this amazing culture on steroids with the proposed merger between T-Mobile and Sprint, where we’ll bring together two sets of passionate employees ready to take on this industry and do big things. We’ve only just started — it’s going to be amazing!
8. We Welcomed MetroPCS
When T-Mobile and MetroPCS announced plans to team-up a month into my tenure as Un-CEO, two wireless innovators came together to deliver an unmatched commitment to service and a lightning-fast network to 8.9 million prepaid customers. There were a lot of haters saying that these mergers don’t work but we proved them wrong … and then some. Today, more than six years later, the value and experience that Metro by T-Mobile delivers to prepaid customers seems to be working with double the number of customers enjoying more data, speed and value than they did prior to the merger — and, now, the first 5G offering in prepaid. And we have added tens of thousands of new amazing people to our Magenta Squad. One group even said there would be “significant” job losses — they said we would eliminate up to 10,000 jobs. Well, we proved them wrong — since 2013, we added tens of thousands of new jobs, including Metro and Metro dealer employees who support the Metro brand. Hey, FORTUNE — thanks for calling this “one of the more surprisingly successful mergers in telecommunications history.” We couldn’t agree more!
9. We Played Ball
Here’s the windup: America’s pastime has played a huge part in growing the Un-carrier. Almost as big a part as my magenta baseball jersey plays in my wardrobe! T-Mobile formed a partnership with Major League Baseball in 2013 — that now extends through 2023! But our ties to baseball run deep at the Un-carrier and anyone who’s been tuning into MLB.TV on their mobile devices the past four years knows that. And we love supporting our future big leaguers too, through our partnership with Little League International.
This year we really got in the game by nabbing the naming rights to T-Mobile Park for 25 years — a commitment to the Un-carrier’s hometown customers as well as our hometown team. That magenta jersey I mentioned is a Mariners one, naturally!
And I can’t forget to mention how these partnerships have allowed us to do some pretty awesome things to give back — our post-season hurricane recovery campaigns #HR4HR and #HatsOff4Heroes, which fund heroic veteran-led relief group Team Rubicon, have donated $5.1 million. And speaking of giving back…
10. We Worked to Do Our Part
And speaking of giving back! One of our very favorite things to do is give back to the communities that support us. We have an amazing group of employees who donate their time and personal money to so many deserving organizations — and we love supporting their efforts through our employee match program with the T-Mobile Foundation. Since the program launched in 2015, the T-Mobile Foundation and our employees have together given almost $14 million to more than 13,000 organizations, and in 2019, they volunteered more than 70,000 hours to more than 9,000-plus non-profit organizations around the country!
As a company we also support a number of programs focused on important issues like youth development, protecting the environment (did you know we were the first major U.S. wireless company to join clean-energy initiative RE 100?), working to help end hunger in America, help veterans, support disaster recovery, bridging the Digital Divide and more. One personal favorite is our Changemaker Challenge for young entrepreneurs who want to change the world! We’re investing in the next generation of trailblazers and about to welcome the second set of visionaries to campus in February 2020. Let me tell you — these young adults and teens are IT. They truly inspire me!
And I mean it! This past year, I was inspired to put my money (and that of many generous matching donors) where my mouth is to kick cancer’s ass. With a lot of help, I was able to raise $4.5 million for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, an amazing organization of doctors and researchers making human genome treatment a real and viable thing for many … life-saving work that will impact millions of people. Oh yeah, and if we reached our goal, I promised I would dye my hair magenta. We know how that turned out!
11. We Got Down to Business
T-Mobile isn’t just the best wireless solution for everyday consumers — it’s become a powerhouse for business customers, too. In 2015, we got into the B2B game in a very real way. What started as Un-carrier move 9.0 became our T-Mobile for Business offer that has become an impactful part of our business. T4B has nearly tripled in size in about five years — winning over small, medium and enterprise clients. In fact, just two years after we launched it, we swept the highly coveted J.D. Power Wireless Business Customer Satisfaction Study for businesses of all sizes in 2017. And then went ahead and did it again the NEXT. TWO. YEARS. Gotta love a “three-peat”! I’m already tapping my foot to the sound of “four-peat” because this part of the market is still a huge opportunity for T-Mobile … so look out!
12. We Saw Customers Choose to Stick Around
At the beginning of the decade, T-Mobile’s customer churn numbers were — let’s just say they were not good. It’s simple — people were not happy, and many of them were leaving. In Q1 of 2012, our reported postpaid churn rate was an abysmal 2.5%. Well, we were down, but we were not out! Our customer experience obsession has turned out to be the thing of comeback dreams come true. Just look at Q2 2019 where our reported postpaid phone churn was a mindboggling .78%!!! Our belief in customers and giving them what they want was proving to be true once again. Told you I’ve been pretty right on with these predictions! (And BTW — I’ll go ahead and say it again — Shut the #*$% up and listen to your customers! It works!)
13. We Announced a Planned Merger with Sprint
It’s been a busy year and a half since we announced our intent to merge with Sprint in April 2018. And now we are close to making a merger that will drive $43 billion in synergies a reality! Really, it was a no-brainer to come together: A New T-Mobile will create a nationwide 5G network with the depth and breadth to deliver 5G to 97% of Americans in three years and 99% of Americans in 6 years, while also keeping our commitment to lower prices, greater innovation and an unbeatable network experience — much quicker than either company can on its own. I firmly believe Americans not only deserve a wireless provider that can take on Verizon, AT&T and Big Cable, but one committed to fighting the good fight. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again — we’re ready to go!
14. We Introduced New T-Mobile’s Un-carrier 1.0 and 5G for Good
To show what the New T-Mobile would bring to the country, last month Mike and I made three huge public commitments, letting everyone know just how much GOOD the proposed New T-Mobile could do: The Connecting Heroes Initiative, a 10-year commitment to free 5G service for EVERY state and local first responder agency across the nation; Project 10Million, a commitment to GIVE free wireless internet service to up to 10 million households to help close the homework gap; and a new $15-a-month prepaid solution called T-Mobile Connect. This will be 5G for Good, and it will be powered by a transformative New T-Mobile 5G network with the capacity and reach that can actually solve problems. Mike said, “It’s time for another wave of change and the New T-Mobile will be at the forefront of that!” I couldn’t agree more … and speaking of waves of change … (check out #15).
15. We Switched on Nationwide 5G
On December 2nd we flipped the switch on our low-band nationwide 5G network for more than 200 million Americans, officially laying the cornerstone for a 5G future for all. This is a HUGE step towards 5G for All. Dumb and Dumber are hellbent on delivering 5G to a few, launching in just a handful of cities with expensive plans and limited coverage. (Have you ever had to use your phone behind a WALL? I feel bad for Verizon customers if they do.) We, on the other hand, made Metro by T-Mobile the first to offer 5G in prepaid. What Neville and his team have been able to accomplish to start the buildout of a 5G network on top of our already lightning-fast 4G LTE network has been nothing short of magic. He’s truly the best CTO in the world (in fact he’s now President of Technology because he’s THAT good!), and I am glad he is in my — and our 84.2 million customers’ — corner!
And the 5 that I Predict Will Define the Next Decade!
1. We’ll See Even More Convergence and Competition Will Be Bigger Than Ever
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again … traditional wireless companies are buying content creators. The Cableopoly is getting into the wireless game. The landscape is changing as the “traditional” wireless providers are battling Comcast, Charter and Dish for customers. In fact, Big Cable had added more postpaid phone customers than AT&T and Verizon combined in 2017, 2018 and through Q3 2019!! No doubt — industry lanes are gone and convergence is officially the new norm … and I can hear consumers shuddering. We’re talking about companies that are best known for high prices, terrible customer service and bad bundles. It’s why the New T-Mobile is so important. Someone needs to force all of these companies to treat consumers right! After all, it’s what we’ve been about from the beginning. As a supercharged Un-carrier, we’ve been the disruptive force this broken industry needed during the ‘10s, and we absolutely plan to keep eliminating pain points and keep listening to our customers into the ‘20s! A combined T-Mobile and Sprint will be a supercharged player with the scale to truly drive competition and fight for consumers!
2. We’ll Deliver Customers Everywhere Choice
Of course, we will continue to take the fight beyond wireless, targeting the Cableopoly and other industries that can be transformed by our best-in-class 5G wireless network if the merger closes — especially home internet. We’ve already rolled out 5G on our low-band spectrum that covers more than 200 million Americans … but can you imagine what we’ll be able to do with the New T-Mobile’s powerful, deep, supercharged network? We’re well on our way to bringing the fight to Big Cable and giving consumers REAL CHOICE, REAL COMPETITION and MORE VALUE.
Look, I’m a stats nerd, and when we first rolled this out, I blogged about the dire need our country has for a disruptor like the Un-carrier to swoop in and offer a real, viable and affordable home broadband solution using our 5G network. Here’s the quick version: According to FCC data, 28.9% of U.S. households and 61.1% of rural households have no in-home broadband service or only one provider for in-home broadband. For high-speed in-home broadband of 100 Mbps, the picture is even more bleak. Almost half the country’s households — 45% — have no high-speed service or only one option to choose from. Of rural households, more than three quarters (76%) have no high-speed service or only one choice available. The proposed New T-Mobile’s best-in-class 5G network will offer a meaningful new option to millions of Americans in the form of New T-Mobile Home Internet. New T-Mobile’s business plan is to have 9.5 million customers for our in-home broadband service by 2024. We will bring competition, period!
3. We’ll Welcome a New CEO
As you may know, last month the Board of Directors and I announced Mike Sievert as the future CEO of T-Mobile on May 1st 2020. I will remain on the Board of Directors and Mike, with the leadership team we have so carefully assembled over the past few years, will take the Un-carrier to new heights. I hired Mike in 2012 and mentored him along the way and he helped me build and create the Un-carrier revolution. I have a lot of respect for him and tremendous confidence in him as T-Mobile’s next leader. He’s not only the clear choice for T-Mobile’s next CEO — he’s the right choice. He has magenta in his DNA, and has a clear vision for where it needs to go in the future. T-Mobile has become the most innovative company in the wireless business, and maybe any other. Mike shares my enthusiasm for T-Mobile, our employees, our customers — and calling BS on the status quo!
4. I’ll Keep Searching for the Perfect Companion
Two words: Legere Dog! Will 2020 be the year that I find my canine bestie? I have a magenta collar and leash ready to go! Woof! Let’s hope that this is the year it becomes a reality!
5. We’ll Be the Supercharged Un-carrier … and Continue to Push the Envelope
Yes, we’ve done a lot over the past decade. 16 Un-carrier moves that have changed this industry are just scratching the surface! This blog would be a lot longer than it already is if I continued to list everything that T-Mobile has done to make wireless better for consumers. But don’t think our work is done. No way. There is SO MUCH MORE for us to do to shake things up in wireless (and beyond) on behalf of consumers. Our next decade is all about being a SUPERCHARGED Un-carrier. We’ve got big plans to challenge the status quo, break into new and uncharted territory and continue to hold the other guys accountable. If we don’t, who will? We’ve always been up for a good fight and that will never change. Let’s go.
Important Additional Information
In connection with the proposed transaction, T-Mobile US, Inc. (“T-Mobile”) has filed a registration statement on Form S-4 (File No. 333-226435), which was declared effective by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) on October 29, 2018, and which contains a joint consent solicitation statement of T-Mobile and Sprint Corporation (“Sprint”), that also constitutes a prospectus of T-Mobile (the “joint consent solicitation statement/prospectus”), and each party will file other documents regarding the proposed transaction with the SEC. INVESTORS AND SECURITY HOLDERS ARE URGED TO READ THE JOINT CONSENT SOLICITATION STATEMENT/PROSPECTUS AND OTHER RELEVANT DOCUMENTS FILED WITH THE SEC WHEN THEY BECOME AVAILABLE BECAUSE THEY WILL CONTAIN IMPORTANT INFORMATION. The documents filed by T-Mobile may be obtained free of charge at T-Mobile’s website, at www.t-mobile.com, or at the SEC’s website, at www.sec.gov, or from T-Mobile by requesting them by mail at T-Mobile US, Inc., Investor Relations, 1 Park Avenue, 14th Floor, New York, NY 10016, or by telephone at 212-358-3210. The documents filed by Sprint may be obtained free of charge at Sprint’s website, at www.sprint.com, or at the SEC’s website, at www.sec.gov, or from Sprint by requesting them by mail at Sprint Corporation, Shareholder Relations, 6200 Sprint Parkway, Mailstop KSOPHF0302-3B679, Overland Park, Kansas 66251, or by telephone at 913-794-1091.
No Offer or Solicitation
This communication shall not constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy any securities, nor shall there be any sale of securities in any jurisdiction in which such offer, solicitation or sale would be unlawful prior to registration or qualification under the securities laws of any such jurisdiction. No offering of securities shall be made except by means of a prospectus meeting the requirements of Section 10 of the U.S. Securities Act of 1933, as amended.
Cautionary Statement Regarding Forward-Looking Statements
This communication contains certain forward-looking statements concerning T-Mobile, Sprint and the proposed transaction between T-Mobile and Sprint. All statements other than statements of fact, including information concerning future results, are forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are generally identified by the words “anticipate,” “believe,” “estimate,” “expect,” “intend,” “may,” “could” or similar expressions. Such forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements about the benefits of the proposed transaction, including anticipated future financial and operating results, synergies, accretion and growth rates, T-Mobile’s, Sprint’s and the combined company’s plans, objectives, expectations and intentions, and the expected timing of completion of the proposed transaction. There are several factors which could cause actual plans and results to differ materially from those expressed or implied in forward-looking statements. Such factors include, but are not limited to, the failure to obtain, or delays in obtaining, required regulatory approvals, and the risk that such approvals may result in the imposition of conditions that could adversely affect the combined company or the expected benefits of the proposed transaction, or the failure to satisfy any of the other conditions to the proposed transaction on a timely basis or at all; the occurrence of events that may give rise to a right of one or both of the parties to terminate the business combination agreement; adverse effects on the market price of T-Mobile’s or Sprint’s common stock and on T-Mobile’s or Sprint’s operating results because of a failure to complete the proposed transaction in the anticipated timeframe or at all; inability to obtain the financing contemplated to be obtained in connection with the proposed transaction on the expected terms or timing or at all; the ability of T-Mobile, Sprint and the combined company to make payments on debt or to repay existing or future indebtedness when due or to comply with the covenants contained therein; adverse changes in the ratings of T-Mobile’s or Sprint’s debt securities or adverse conditions in the credit markets; negative effects of the announcement, pendency or consummation of the transaction on the market price of T-Mobile’s or Sprint’s common stock and on T-Mobile’s or Sprint’s operating results, including as a result of changes in key customer, supplier, employee or other business relationships; significant transaction costs, including financing costs, and unknown liabilities; failure to realize the expected benefits and synergies of the proposed transaction in the expected timeframes or at all; costs or difficulties related to the integration of Sprint’s network and operations into T-Mobile; the risk of litigation or regulatory actions, including the antitrust litigation brought by the attorneys general of certain states and the District of Columbia; the inability of T-Mobile, Sprint or the combined company to retain and hire key personnel; the risk that certain contractual restrictions contained in the business combination agreement during the pendency of the proposed transaction could adversely affect T-Mobile’s or Sprint’s ability to pursue business opportunities or strategic transactions; effects of changes in the regulatory environment in which T-Mobile and Sprint operate; changes in global, political, economic, business, competitive and market conditions; changes in tax and other laws and regulations; and other risks and uncertainties detailed in the Form S-4, as well as in T-Mobile’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2018 and in its subsequent reports on Form 10-Q, including in the sections thereof captioned “Risk Factors” and “Cautionary Statement Regarding Forward-Looking Statements,” as well as in its subsequent reports on Form 8-K, all of which are filed with the SEC and available at www.sec.gov and www.t-mobile.com, and in Sprint’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2019 and in its subsequent reports on Form 10-Q, including in the sections thereof captioned “Risk Factors” and “MD&A — Forward-Looking Statements,” as well as in its subsequent reports on Form 8-K, all of which are filed with the SEC and available at www.sec.gov and www.sprint.com. Forward-looking statements are based on current expectations and assumptions, which are subject to risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed in or implied by such forward-looking statements. Given these risks and uncertainties, persons reading this communication are cautioned not to place undue reliance on such forward-looking statements. T-Mobile and Sprint assume no obligation to update or revise the information contained in this communication (whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise), except as required by applicable law.