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Hans Vestberg tapped as next CEO of Verizon

Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam stepping back effective August 1

Hans Vestberg, after a six-year stint as CEO of Ericsson, joined Verizon in April 2017 as executive vice president, chief technology officer and president of global networks. Today the carrier announced Vestberg will become CEO effective Aug. 1, taking over for Lowell McAdam who will serve as executive chairman of the board through the end of the year, then transition into a non-executive chairman of the board position. McAdam has been CEO since Aug. 1, 2011.

In his current position, Vestberg oversees Verizon’s fiber, LTE and 5G strategies. “I am humbled to be appointed CEO of Verizon at such an exciting and dynamic time for our company and industry,” he said in a statement. “We are experiencing unprecedented changes in the way users interact in the digital world, and we are racing ahead to remain at the forefront of technology, connectivity and mobility…I look forward to building on this momentum while continuing to focus on strengthening our customer relationships, and driving growth and profitability throughout the business to deliver long-term value. Best of all, I get to do this alongside the greatest team in the business.”

McAdam described Vestberg as “an energizing force who will continue to position Verizon to lead the Fourth Industrial Revolution—the emergence of technologies that blend the physical and the digital to create historic breakthroughs in connectivity and mobility. It has been my great privilege to serve alongside some of the brightest minds in the business during my tenure. I look forward to working with Hans and the Board to support our customers and employees, and deliver value for shareholders.”

Gartner Research VP Eric Goodness provided some insight into the move, and questioned Vestberg’s ability to expand Verizon’s reach into the enterprise space.

“When all you have is a wrench, everything looks like a pipe fitting. Verizon’s choice for its new CEO guarantees to keep the company as a network-centric provider. The IT equivalent of plumbing. What is concerning is the long-term investments for VZ to become more than a network plumber. Hans does not have a legacy for broader enterprise-focused solutions and value selling. Perhaps VZ will de-emphasize enterprise in favor of the consumer side…which would require VZ to focus a lot more on media and entertainment than they have (like peers at AT&T, BT, et al).”

He continued: “The common wisdom in the market is that choosing Hans shows that VZ is placing all its bets on 5G. That is true to a large degree. However, another facet of the Ericsson legacy that Hans brings to the table is Ericsson’s outsourcing business for telcos (and to some degree for the enterprise). Given VZ’s current focus on ripping out costs from service creation and service delivery, Hans delivers here. That’s great for margin expansion in the near- to mid-term.”

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