My 10th Magentaversary: Reflecting on a Decade of Work Alongside the Best in Wireless
By Mike Sievert
Wow, it’s been 10 years since I joined T-Mobile. A decade! It’s an understatement to say A LOT has happened in that time. When I joined Team Magenta, T-Mobile was rebuilding from a failed merger but working on another with MetroPCS. We had a little over 33 million customers. Our former CEO John Legere had joined only a few weeks earlier. We didn’t yet offer the iPhone, or LTE service. We had just launched our first unlimited nationwide 4G data plan. We were focused on prepaid and our “challenger strategy” in urban areas — and just starting to firm up plans for a new groundbreaking Un-carrier approach that would change wireless as we knew it.
That’s just scratching the surface, but yep, A LOT has happened in that time.
Work “Magentaversaries” are an important part of our Un-carrier culture. We love celebrations (particularly when they involve magenta confetti!), but these annual moments of recognition are more than that. Our people and unique culture are what makes us the Un-carrier, and Magentaversaries give us an opportunity to reflect on what we’ve been able to accomplish — together. Wins, losses, moments of success and failure. No doubt, we’ve experienced it all and learned a ton together along the way.
Sometimes in the fast turn of wireless, we don’t take the time to pause and think about how far we’ve come. The people who have shaped us. The steps we’ve taken. But we should! Even as we welcome new talent to the team (we’ve hired more people every year since the close of the merger in 2020!), we should never miss the opportunity to celebrate these milestones — from first years to impressive 20-, 25- or 30-year marks, and everything in between and beyond!
In that spirit, I was thinking about what I’ve taken away from a decade of work here and the things that have inspired me. I thought I’d share 10 things with you (not a coincidence). For me, time sure does fly by doing big things for our customers with the most dedicated team of employees. It’s a thrilling and fast-paced journey every day!
Smart risks lead to rewards. In the early days of the Un-carrier, T-Mobile recognized that customers deserved better. Our team under John decided to put our trust in customers and make them first in everything, and we’ve continued to build on that approach in the years I have been CEO. Back then, we also quickly realized we needed to force change upon a severely broken wireless industry. Playing it safe just wouldn’t cut it. We had to take some risks to truly shake up wireless … so we did just that. People thought we were crazy for gutsy Un-carrier moves like eliminating hidden fees and abolishing data limits forever, but we knew making the leap would pay off. Our belief? Invest in customers — and if you serve them well, they’ll invest right back in you. That customer-first mindset continues to pay off today with more than 20 Un-carrier moves (and additions to those moves) under our belt (and counting), along with an unwavering focus on bringing customers the best network, the best value and the best experiences.
Competition fuels innovation. This has always been a hypercompetitive industry, and the good news for T-Mobile is that it’s an environment we crave. When you’re faced with pressure from the other guys, you can choose to buckle OR pave the way like we’re doing with our big lead in 5G. As you probably know, T-Mobile has the largest, fastest and most reliable nationwide 5G network. That new level of quality competition, enabled by our ground-breaking merger with Sprint a few years ago, is inspiring all kinds of investments and change across the industry. Witness the huge 5G investments our competitors are now making as they try to catch up to T-Mobile! When real competition happens, customers at every carrier are the winners. That’s why T-Mobile is driving technology forward for consumers with things like 5G standalone, a massive step toward unleashing life-changing apps that will thrive on a pure 5G network. We also came up Easy Switch, a simple, innovative and fast (only takes five minutes!) way for people to use their unlocked eSIM-compatible smartphones to move over and experience the Un-carrier.
Don’t be afraid to swim upstream. Putting customers first can be expensive, and sometimes, a little lonely. But when everyone else is going a different direction, that only emboldens us at T-Mobile. This summer, both of our principal competitors rolled out big price increases to their monthly plans to millions of customers, raising significant revenue. We were asked many times whether we’d respond in kind. Our response? Price Lock, our signature guarantee that we won’t raise the price of your monthly plan for voice and data. It’s a great example of us going alone and placing faith in our customers. And guess what? This year our postpaid service revenue growth is leading the industry among major players — showing that swimming upstream for customers isn’t just good, it’s also good business.
Create a culture that includes everyone. T-Mobile is a vibrant and diverse place to work, and our customer-focused employee community is the single biggest differentiator of the Un-carrier. Investing in our team — and working to create a culture where every employee from every background can work authentically — is a big part of our success. For many years, we’ve worked to cultivate and nurture a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion every single day. Our Equity In Action plan ensures that DE&I remains at the heart of the values we live by. Our focus here makes the company a better place to work, it helps the communities we serve, and it contributes to our success in the marketplace. We have a lot of work left to do here, and we’re far from perfect. But I know the pursuit is worth it every time I meet team members who tell me how our attempts at an open and inclusive culture have impacted their lives — and our company — for the better.
Never stop learning and growing. I’ve talked about growth mindset before. At T-Mobile we call it the “We Won’t Stop” mindset. We’re all about growth, and that means developing people and filling positions not based just on “what you’ve done” but on what you can do. We strive to invest in potential, because it’s not always about formal credentials or lines on a resume. It’s about grit. And restlessness — the relentless pursuit of the difficult. I’m grateful for leaders throughout my career who were willing to let me put my potential and thirst for opportunity to the test. They took a chance on me, and I’ve loved having the opportunity to pay that forward. With more than 3,000 job openings right now, you can bet T-Mobile is all in on finding talented individuals who are ready to bring their passion, tenacity and agility — because we have big things to accomplish together! We value these learners, because seeking knowledge from others is a vital part of the leadership journey. Whether casual connections with those you admire or formal mentoring opportunities, we should all invest in our career and personal growth by learning and listening. This year I launched my Sidekicks Conversations series with this in mind: Everyone has a story, and everyone has something we can learn from.
Success creates success. We had 26.5 million branded customers in 2012. Today, with more than 110 million customer connections, we are still adding more customers than our two largest competitors combined. T-Mobile is experiencing the greatest growth momentum in wireless, and we’ve built on that by turning our attention to a tragically broken broadband industry that was locking its customers into expensive contracts for subpar service. With Internet Freedom, our groundbreaking Un-carrier move to support T-Mobile 5G Home Internet, we’ve made it easy for customers to “break up” with their cable company! Today our 5G Home Internet service is posting industry-leading growth by following the same customer-first principles that made us a leader in mobile connections.
Mistakes uncover fresh thinking. At T-Mobile we have a relentless appetite for taking bold action and forging new, uncharted courses … but not everything works every time, and we’ve got to be OK with that. Cheesy poster-quote alert: If you’re making every shot you take, you’re not taking enough shots. Or: If you don’t go out on a limb, you’re never going to get the best fruit. But really, failures aren’t always bad and sometimes are just what you need to grow. We move quickly, learn what customers teach us, and change course without hesitation or regret. We also keep moving as we learn, adjust, learn, adjust. That pace of change can be stressful, but at the Un-carrier, it’s also normal.
It’s better to be an owner. Have you ever noticed, as a customer, that it’s just better when you can deal directly with the owner of a business? They take responsibility. They value customers. They fix issues with urgency. We noticed, too. That’s why years ago, under our previous CEO, we decided to make every single T-Mobile employee an owner with meaningful annual stock grants. That’s a policy we’ve continued during the years I have led the combined company. We act like owners because we ARE owners.
We can use our platform to generate real impact. T-Mobile is in the business of connecting people — and that means all people. Our commitment to stand up for consumers — to deliver 5G for GOOD — extends to underserved communities, first responders, remote populations and at-risk students. I’m particularly proud of the work we’ve done through Project 10Million, our groundbreaking program that aims to provide 10 million eligible students with a free hotspot, free or highly subsidized data plans, and access to at-cost laptops and tablets. So far, we’ve invested $3.65 billion in services to connect 4.3 million U.S. students, and our efforts continue. Big business like ours have a huge influence on the world we live in, and it is important that we use the platforms of our business to help achieve systemic change.
Perseverance is a virtue — if you are right. The T-Mobile-Sprint merger. Need I say more? Try and try again. It took incredible determination to bring a supercharged T-Mobile to life. Despite obstacles and challenges in our path, we never doubted what we were setting out to do: deliver a transformative nationwide 5G network, better products at unmatched value, increased competition and access for underserved communities. Check, check, check and check. We hung on and kept going because we knew we were right in our belief that our new company would bring a new level of competition to the market, and that T-Mobile and customers everywhere would benefit. Now — after two and a half years of planning and fighting for the merger, and over two and a half years integrating the companies to create today’s T-Mobile — we have a success that’s unmatched in telecommunications history. I’m so proud of this team and what they deliver every day. And I can’t wait to see what the next 10 years bring!