The AT&T board had been considering candidates to take over from Stephenson since 2017 but ultimately opted for a man who’s held a variety of roles at the company over the last 35 years. Before becoming COO and WarnerMedia chief, Stankey acted as the CEO of the Entertainment Group, Operations and Business Solutions divisions, chief strategy officer and chief technology officer.
AT&T is in the midst of some key transitions, including the rollout of 5G and its big bet on streaming, HBO Max. Given his background, Stankey seems to have the chops to oversee all of those moves effectively. However, he faced some scrutiny in 2018 after he reportedly called on HBO to create more TV in order to bump up viewing time, despite the network’s longstanding emphasis on quality over quantity.
Stephenson is the second major telecom CEO to step down this year. T-Mobile’s John Legere is leaving his post at the end of April after seeing through the Sprint merger.