A tale of two AT&Ts

Colin Berkshire’s excellent three-part article titled A Brief History of AT&T begins by asking

How did it happen that the AT&T network became so poor, their prices so high, and how did the company become one so universally despised?

Within his article’s three parts (part 1, part 2, part 3) he explains,

The reason that AT&T service sucks is the same reason that Microsoft missed being the next Google, and why they missed the smartphone market and the tablet market and every other market this decade. It’s the same reason that HP has failed. It is the “MBA Manager Syndrome” of managers that don’t know their business and whose main skill is finance and politics.

450px-At&tPhoneSeeming vs Being

To begin with, the entity that calls itself AT&T is not your father’s American Telephone and Telegraph. It’s Southwestern Bell, renamed SBC for a while and merged with BellSouth, which in 2005 decided that the “AT&T” moniker had more je ne sais quoi than “SBC”. It’s headquartered in Dallas and is populated with corporate parasites: public relations people, lawyers, MBAs, and union workers. It is not a technical leader.

Lose $6B for your employer.
Take home $21 million.

Randall Stephenson, CEO of AT&T, at the 2008 World Economic Forum. photo: Robert Scoble
Randall Stephenson, CEO of AT&T, at the 2008 World Economic Forum. photo: Robert Scoble
All of their lawyers and all of their MBAs goofed in 2011 when AT&T’s attempt to buy T-Mobile was blocked by the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. As a result, AT&T had to pay $4 billion in compensatory fees to T-Mobile and lost another $2 billion in associated costs. In most corporations such losses would result in an overhaul of management, if not its board of directors. Not at AT&T ( Southwestern Bell). Its CEO not only kept his job, he took home $21 million last year. Nice work if you can get it.

I enjoy reading Mr. Berkshire’s articles. They reveal the inner workings and hidden mechanisms that only someone who’s worked within the Bell System would know.

Visit my website: http://russbellew.com
© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695


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