What’s up with… T-Mobile US, Ryan Reynolds, Adept, Casa Systems

T-Mobile US CEO Mike Sievert (left) tries acting with Ryan Reynolds.

T-Mobile US CEO Mike Sievert (left) tries acting with Ryan Reynolds.

  • T-Mobile US snaps up Ryan Reynolds-backed Mint Mobile
  • More cash pours into generative AI as Adept raises $350m
  • Casa Systems is looking for a new CEO   

In today’s industry news roundup: T-Mobile US acquires Ryan Reynolds-based MVNO Mint Mobile and its sibling companies; ChatGPT fever continues as generative AI startup Adept gains unicorn status with Series B round; Jerry Guo is taking an abrupt step back from the CEO role at Casa Systems; and more!

As was rumoured earlier this year, T-Mobile US has struck a deal to acquire low-cost consumer mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) Mint Mobile, which counts Hollywood actor and Wrexham FC co-owner Ryan Reynolds as a major investor (about a 20% stake) and brand ambassador, for up to $1.35bn in cash and shares. Mint will be acquired along with its sibling operations, international calling package specialist Ultra Mobile and wholesale operation Plum: Between them the three units are believed to have between 2 million and 3 million customers. The businesses, which already offer their services over the T-Mobile US network, will remain as separate operating units within the T-Mobile empire. “Our brands have thrived on the T-Mobile network, and we are thrilled that this agreement will take them even further, bringing the many benefits of 5G to even more Americans,” noted David Glickman, founder and CEO of Mint, Ultra and Plum, who will continue in his role, along with fellow founder Rizwan Kassim, once the deal is completed. “This transaction validates our meteoric success and will unite two proven industry innovators committed to doing things differently in the wireless industry,” added Glickman. Naturally, Reynolds, pictured above (right) with T-Mobile US CEO Mike Sievert, made the suits seem somewhat dull with his approved comments. Mint Mobile, which offers mobile service packages from just US$15 per month, “is the best deal in wireless and today’s news only enhances our ability to deliver for our customers. We are so happy T-Mobile beat out an aggressive last-minute bid from my mom Tammy Reynolds as we believe the excellence of their 5G network will provide a better strategic fit than my mom’s slightly-above-average mahjong skills. I am so proud of the entire Mint team and so excited for what’s to come,” he added. The comedy actor will continue “in his creative role on behalf of Mint,” noted T-Mobile. Read more

Despite the ongoing issues with OpenAI’s ChatGPT bot, which is now in its fourth iteration and still subject to inaccuracies, social biases and “adversarial prompts,” according to its developers, the generative AI sector is hotter than ever. Multiple companies, including Microsoft (a major investor in OpenAI) are using ChatGPT in their businesses, and investors are lining up to fund startups. The latest is Adept, which was founded just over a year ago by former OpenAI staff and has just raised $350m in its Series B round at a valuation of more than $1bn, the threshold for the much sought-after unicorn status. The Adept team is doing something different to ChatGPT – instead of answering queries, its system, ACT-1, is being trained to turn text commands into a set of IT actions, essentially performing compute tasks, currently performed manually, by itself. “We’re building a future in which you can tell your computer to do something in your own words and then just watch it happen on your screen. Less time wasted on frustrating, manual, multi-step processes. More time spent solving the problems that matter most to you, your community, and society,” notes the company in its funding announcement. The Adept team believes its system could be capable of delivering that vision within just a few years. The potential for network management and security is intriguing. For more insights, see this article from Forbes.  

Casa Systems is set for a sudden top-level change as its founder, Jerry Guo, has announced his retirement as president and CEO with effect from 17 March, which is this Friday, though he will remain on the board. The cable broadband and wireless network system vendor’s CFO, Ed Durkin, will act as interim CEO until a full-time replacement is appointed. The news came as a surprise to those who follow the company. “We regard unexpected C-level transitions as a risk, and consider the effective date of March 17 abrupt,” noted Simon Leopold, managing director of the data infrastructure equity research team at Wall Street firm Raymond James in an update to clients, though he also sees the change as an opportunity for the vendor to assess its costs and investment plans. The news about Guo came as Casa Systems reported adjusted earnings loss of $29m on revenues of $286.5m for the full year 2022, and noted that, following positive signs towards the end of 2022, it expects 2023 revenues to come in at between $300m and $325m, and positive adjusted earnings (so swinging from a loss to a profit). Read more

Belgium’s national operator Proximus has teamed up with Google Cloud to offer “sovereign cloud services” in Belgium and Luxembourg, based on the hyperscaler’s Google Distributed Cloud Hosted offering, which does not require connectivity to Google Cloud to manage infrastructure, services, APIs, or tooling. “This partnership will help securely deploy sensitive, mission-critical workloads and provide next-generation digital sovereignty controls for governments, regulated enterprises and international organisations,” noted the partners. Read more

Telecom Italia (TIM), which is currently courting higher bids for its NetCo fixed line and international unit, isn’t the only network operator in the country that wants to cash in on its network assets. CH Hutchison-owned Wind Tre is aiming to spin out its network assets and sell them to Swedish infrastructure investor EQT, according to this Reuters report.  

- The staff, TelecomTV

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