WeWork’s Adam Neumann is out of the picture. But it appears WeWork’s offbeat corporate culture will remain. That’s because, according to reports, WeWork is looking to hire T-Mobile’s eccentric CEO, John Legere, to try to revive the co-working company’s fading fortunes. Some have joked that Legere is a good pick because better choices like NFL receiver Antonio Brown weren’t available.
In general, though, social media has been quick to praise the potential hire, saying Legere may be just the sort of distinctive character WeWork needs to turn things around. Why would the flamboyant T-Mobile personality be a good fit at WeWork?
There are a couple of reasons SoftBank likely chose Legere as a potential CEO in addition to his undeniable charisma. For one, analysts had been speculating about him as WeWork’s potential savior for a few months. In an interview with CNBC in September, Yale University business professor Jeffrey Sonnenfeld raised this possibility. Discussing Legere, he said:
He’s been very good at revivals and resuscitations. T-Mobile, he came in there after the AT&T deal had collapsed. He built value that was enormous there.
Legere has worked at a bunch of troubled companies, including classic dot-com era business fiasco Global Crossing. He was able to salvage what was left of Global Crossing, lead the firm out of bankruptcy, and eventually sell it to Level 3, saving countless jobs. With T-Mobile, he also figured out a way to breathe new life into the ailing mobile carrier and make it a viable competitor to AT&T and Verizon.
And that’s where SoftBank comes in. SoftBank is a major investor in Sprint. SoftBank hired Marcelo Claure to turn things around at Sprint. Claure’s big idea was selling Sprint to Legere’s T-Mobile. With that transaction already in progress, SoftBank then brought Claure into WeWork to try to rescue its ailing investment there. Claure’s new solution is the same as before: call Legere.
It’s hard to save a company that was run by a cult-like founder. In tapping Legere, WeWork would be giving themselves a shot, though. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and Legere has shown an ability to win as an underdog before. Still, he would face as big a challenge as any in his career so far. WeWork is desperately selling off assets and firing staff after its IPO efforts unceremoniously flamed out. SoftBank admitted its bad judgment and had to throw good money after bad simply to keep WeWork afloat.
Ironically, though, this move may unravel Legere’s previous efforts at T-Mobile. T-Mobile stock dropped as much as 3% immediately following the reports that he may be jumping to the WeWork position. T-Mobile’s long-running bid to merge with Sprint still hasn’t achieved final regulatory approval. As Fox Business’ Charles Gasparino put it, this move shows “little regard” for T-Mobile’s merger efforts if the key man is willing to leave at such a critical juncture. But for an ambitious leader like Legere, the opportunity to rescue WeWork may simply be too much to pass up.
Last modified: September 23, 2020 1:16 PM