A great changing of the guard is undertaken at one of the world’s largest and iconic titles in telecoms and media: AT&T recently announced that Randall Stephenson would be moving down as the CEO and chairman of the telco, and John Stankey will succeed him, presently the COO. 

The change is active on June 1, and as Stephenson is retiring, he will remain on as executive chairman of AT&T till January 2021.

The Underlying Observations 

The announcement might come as a shock for some since in October it was stated that Stephenson would linger on for another year after tamping down a struggle with activist investors at Elliott Management.

The placement of Stankey is a hint of how AT&T has been developing as a business and especially its stronger reorientation as a media firm beside its telco roots, as one way of growing and expanding its business at a point that communications infrastructure becomes frequently commoditized.

Media, in that point, has become more digitized, and so those who are managing what goes “over” our broadband and wireless links stand to make robust returns by owning more of a verticalized business model, where they command the medium and the message, so to converse. 

Most famous in AT&T’s development towards a more effective media focus has been its purchase of Time Warner for $85.4 billion in 2018. 

However, others such as its purchase of AppNexus have also been striking advances.

That approach has put AT&T in some disagreement with, for instance, Verizon, which also has media concerns. 

Still, it arguably has adopted a different way to evolving the “M” of TMT opposed to Comcast or AT&T. 

John Stankey | iTMunch

The Journey of Stankey

Stankey’s positions at AT&T have involved CEO of WarnerMedia, and CEO of the AT&T Entertainment Group, along with several additional roles including Chief Technology Officer; Chief Strategy Officer; CEO of AT&T Operations; and CEO of AT&T Business Solutions.

Earlier to the announcement, he was previously managing three of AT&T’s four business sections — AT&T Communications, WarnerMedia and Xandr. 

Collectively these three represented 95% of AT&T’s 2019 consolidated incomes of $181.2 billion, the company states.

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