With WeWork co-founder Adam Neumann resigning amid controversy over his leadership, talk has already turned to a long-term replacement. One observer floated an intriguing name that could send a shockwave through the Pacific Northwest tech world: T-Mobile CEO John Legere.
Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, senior associate dean for leadership studies at Yale University’s School of Management, told CNBC there’s “rumors out there that are starting to spread that he is the perfect guy for the job.” Legere’s unique leadership style, reputation for turning around companies and his relationship with WeWork’s primary investor SoftBank through the merger with Sprint make him a good candidate to take over the co-working giant, Sonnenfeld said.
“He’s been very good at revivals and resuscitations,” Sonnenfeld said. “T-Mobile, he came in there after the AT&T deal had collapsed. He built value that was enormous there.”
T-Mobile did not immediately respond to a request for comment. We will update this story if we hear back.
It’s unclear why Legere would want to leave T-Mobile right now. Under his watch, the company has positioned itself as the rebellious “Un-carrier,” upending the industry and challenging giants AT&T and Verizon. If the mega-merger with Sprint is approved, T-Mobile will be in its best position yet to take on rival carriers and Legere will be at the helm of the $146 billion wireless juggernaut.
Sonnenfeld acknowledged that Legere is in a good situation at T-Mobile, saying “I think he shouldn’t, but I think he would” take the top job at WeWork. If Legere wanted to make a move, Sonnenfeld would like to see him take over for Elon Musk as CEO of Tesla.
If Legere were to make the surprising jump, it wouldn’t be the first time in recent memory a Seattle-area tech CEO in a good spot decided to leave for the top job at a troubled Silicon Valley darling. Former Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi took the reins at Uber following a series of scandals that led to the resignation of Travis Kalanick.
Following Neumann’s departure, interim CEO duties at WeWork will be split among two veteran tech execs. Sebastian Gunningham became the company’s vice chairman last year after an 11-year stint at Amazon, where he served as senior vice president in charge of operations, including its seller services division. Gunningham will work with Artie Minson, WeWork’s CFO and former Time Warner Cable president.
News of Neumann’s resignation follows a tumultuous IPO period for WeWork. The company postponed going public amid concerns over WeWork’s massive losses, its complicated corporate structure and a series of payments made to Neumann, who also owned several buildings the company leased space from.