Son Straining to Push a Slow Sprint Forward

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The Wall Street Journal has published a lengthy piece on the difficult transition Sprint (NYSE:S) is undergoing with the leadership of SoftBank (SFTBY.PK) CEO Masayoshi Son, who has been frustrated by the company’s lack of progress since SoftBank acquired a majority stake in the company last summer.

Among the things that have frustrated Son is Sprint’s advertising, which he allegedly once called “stupid” at a meeting, the slow growth pace that Sprint has been showing while competitor T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) scoops up customers by introducing exciting new initiatives, and difficult wireless regulations in the U.S. that aren’t present in Son’s native Japan.

Son’s goal is to use Sprint to shake up the U.S. wireless industry, similarly to what he did with SoftBank in Japan. He is frustrated that the U.S. wireless industry is dominated by AT&T (NYSE:T) and Verizon (NYSE:VZ), and wants to create a more able competitor. While the company has shown slow but steady progress, things aren’t moving as quickly as Son would like them to.

Son is looking to ramp up the improvements by becoming even more involved in Sprint. He has set up an office in Silicon Valley, where he meets with Sprint execs once a month. According to sources within the company who spoke to The Wall Street Journal, Son is a hands-on leader who is openly challenging employees more than they are used to. Sources said that managers now prepare for meetings by assuming that Son will ask them the question they most dread. Many support Son’s tactics, though, saying that he offers as much praise as he does criticism and even hugs people he’s particularly happy with.

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