Three Clearwire Execs Leave, Including The CEO

Is something afoot at Clearwire? To many, WiMAX has been a dying technology. LTE clearly has the Lion's share of the support globally, and many carriers (like Yota in Russia) have already switched their 4G service loyalty from WiMAX to LTE. But Clearwire is still a big deal, and Sprint's growing 4G consumer base relies on those airwaves. But this week, suddenly, the company's CEO decided to step down. There have been rumors that Clearwire and Sprint weren't exactly getting along, but definitely no rumors of the CEO just outright departing.

But that's what has happened. The executive leadership team is changing, with CEO Bill Morrow stepping down and John Stanton, chairman of Clearwire's board of directors and former CEO of Western Wireless and VoiceStream Wireless, being named CEO of Clearwire on an interim basis, effective immediately. He'll retain his role as board chairman as well, presumably to return when a full-time CEO is found. Morrow cited "personal reasons" for the departure, which usually always means something more. Did he disagree with the direction of the company? Did he sense impending changes that he wasn't ready to tackle? It's impossible to know, and it's also anyone's guess as to what this means for Clearwire going forward.

Being the CEO of a 4G services company that's second place already can't be easy. But will a change at the top be what Clearwire needed to make a real run at LTE? In related news, rik Prusch, Clearwire's CFO, has been promoted to the newly created position of chief operating officer (COO). In this position, Prusch will be responsible for the company's day-to-day operations, including wholesale and retail sales, marketing, customer service, supply chain, human resources, IT and network operations. In addition, Hope Cochran, Clearwire's senior vice president and treasurer, has been promoted to the position of CFO. Cochran will be responsible for all of the company's financial and investor related functions, including overseeing Clearwire's ongoing fundraising efforts.

The company also announced that Mike Sievert, chief commercial officer, and Kevin Hart, CIO, are both leaving the company to pursue other opportunities. Both Sievert and Hart will remain with the company for a transition period. That's three executives (including the CEO!) out in a single day. That definitely doesn't happen often, and it has to have shook Clearwire to the core. According to the company, these departures will not delay the ongoing discussions to settle disputes with Sprint over licensing pricing, and Clearwire still thinks that a deal with Sprint is "imminent."

It should be very interesting to see what transpires in the 4G world here in the coming months. Will Clearwire change directions? Will it just become stronger? Will LTE benefit or suffer in any way? Let the mobile broadband drama begin!
Tags:  LTE, WiMAX, Clearwire