SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son is apparently pretty outspoken within the halls of Sprint, the U.S. wireless carrier SoftBank recently bought a controlling stake in. According to a report from The Wall Street Journal on Monday, Mr. Son has struggled to turn Sprint around as quickly as he originally anticipated. The news outlet provides a compelling look at his management style.
In one meeting, Mr. Son apparently asked Sprint advertising executives if they were “stupid.” “He slammed his fist on a table and suggested that Sprint fire all its ad agencies and start over,” The Wall Street Journal said. Sprint wasn’t able to kill off those existing contracts — though one must wonder who approved the silly “Framily” moniker for its new plans, which were created under Mr. Son. The problem, as Mr. Son sees it, is that Sprint has a “loser” mentality — one that has prevented it from tackling rivals AT&T and Verizon.
Sprint is still the third largest wireless carrier in the U.S., but while it has remained relatively quiet over the past several years, T-Mobile has come out swinging, offering new lower prices, a different strategy and incentives to switch. Mr. Son says it’s “not enough” that Sprint has enough power to control the market in Kansas, but nowhere else. Sprint CEO Dan Hesse, who has a more laid back attitude, admitted to The Wall Street Journal that he has a very different management style than Mr. Son, but that the two are able to respect one another.
Moving forward, Mr. Son apparently has plans to bring 1,000 Japanese employees to the United States, and his goal now is to move on the offensive against Sprint’s competitors, instead of reacting to their moves. That will require a T-Mobile-like strategy, paired with a quicker roll-out of its more advanced Sprint Spark LTE network. So far, that network is only in a handful of markets and Sprint hasn’t done a great job spreading a message on the benefits. Mr. Son, The Wall Street Journal said, still believes that Sprint can eventually overcome AT&T and Verizon to become the top wireless carrier in the U.S. But when?