T-Mobile USA CEO Dotson Steps Down, But Very Slowly
T-Mobile USA announced the planned departure of its CEO of seven years, Robert Dotson, to spend more time with family and “pursue entirely new challenges.” Dotson rose to the position of CEO after serving as Chief Marketing Officer. As head of marketing for T-Mobile, the fourth place wireless carrier in the US, Dotson was responsible for driving the “Get More” story, which featured Jamie Lee Curtis, then Catherine Zeta-Jones, and focused the T-Mobile brand message on the great value the company offered to consumers.
After his promotion to CEO, the company switched brand direction with the introduction of its new Stick Together tagline, and its signature MyFaves service. The new brand messaging never seemed to find a steady voice in the market, and without an iconic celebrity spokesperson, the company didn’t seem to be connecting with customers. By 2009, the company was struggling to increase its subscriber base. Fierce Wireless reported that “T-Mobile USA had just 415,000 net additions in the first quarter, down from 981,000 in the year-ago quarter and 621,000 in the fourth quarter of 2008.”
In May of 2009, Dotson brought back Catherine Zeta-Jones, pushed the company to focus on family plans, and reinforced the value message with its bill comparison campaign, on which they partnered with Billshrink.com. At the same time, the increasing number of customers without contracts, the emergence of unlimited voice, messaging and data plans, and the increasing subsidies demanded by customers to make smartphones affordable all contributed to a tougher economic climate for the company.
Dotson will be succeeded by an executive that comes to the US carrier from its parent company, Deutsche Telekom. Philipp Humm, chief of T-Mobile's operations in Germany until late 2008 and most recently its Chief Regional Officer, will transition into the CEO role over the course of several quarters, and will take over as CEO of T-Mobile USA in February 2011, while Dotson will remain on as a T-Mobile USA non-executive board member until May 2011.