updated 06:55 pm EST, Mon December 28, 2009
Qualcomm's Lauer would mark sea change
Verizon may soon undergo a significant transformation if speculative reports carry weight. Qualcomm Chief Operating Officer Len Lauer left his phone chipset maker late last week to become CEO at "another company" which it declined to name and has led to speculation that he will replace Verizon chief Ivan Seidenberg. Lauer had a background in phone carriers before taking on a role at Qualcomm and has been a key supplier of parts for the phones Verizon uses.
More definite evidence has not yet surfaced for the IDG-rumored move, though Seidenberg has been relatively long-serving and has led Verizon ever since it was formed in 2000 as the result of merging Bell Atlantic, GTE and Vodafone Airtouch. Publicly, the CEO has been evasive about his retirement plans but has said that no Verizon leader has remained in the position past 65 years old. Seidenberg is 63 and could opt for early retirement or a gradual succession plan.
Neither Lauer nor Verizon has talked about the rumor.
A shift of the sort would be a sea change for the cellular industry, where most current and recently departed CEOs have come directly from the carrier business and have had little to no experience with managing the phone designers themselves. Seidenberg has been touted for promoting the phone network and has helped Verizon overtake AT&T as the single largest cell carrier in the US, but it's also suspected that he may have cost Verizon a major deal by letting the company turn down the iPhone. The service has also developed an overall reputation for being slow to pick up advanced devices and was the fourth carrier to adopt Android, trailing not only T-Mobile and Sprint but the regional provider Cellular South.