Erik Prusch named CEO of Clearwire, taking over a battered company in need of a lifeline

Erik Prusch

The job in front of Erik Prusch — who was promoted to president and CEO of Clearwire today — may be one of the toughest in wireless. The former CFO and COO at Clearwire will need to manage a complex relationship with majority shareholder Sprint, raise capital to add a LTE network and reassure shareholders (who have seen the stock plummet 72 percent this year) that the company can still live up to its initial promise.

Sounds like fun, huh?

Prusch also has some big shoes to fill, taking over the CEO duties from wireless veteran John Stanton who had filled the role on an interim basis after William Morrow stepped down. Stanton will become executive chairman, noting in a release that “my personal commitment to Clearwire remains strong.”

Prusch has more of a financial background, which could serve the company well as it looks to raise capital, sell spectrum or search for other strategic alternatives. He served as CEO of Borland Software and vice president of finance at Identix before joining Clearwire in 2009.

“John and I, as well as the rest of our senior leadership team, are focused on successfully executing the critical tasks needed to grow our business and fully leverage our significant spectrum assets in order to keep Clearwire on course as a leader in mobile broadband and the largest 4G provider in the United States,” Prusch said in a statement.

Clearwire’s stock has been hammered in the past five days, falling 42 percent. But the stock is up a bit this morning on the news, trading at $1.43.

Can Prusch get the stock price even higher?

As noted above, there are some big challenges in front of the Kirkland provider of broadband wireless. But he will be well compensated to get the job done, earning a base salary of $700,000.

Previously on GeekWire: Clearwire embraces LTE as subscribers top 7.6 million and losses mount