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Reputation Alert: Should AT&T’s CEO Just Be Quiet?




If you are the person who has the responsibility of monitoring your brand’s reputation one of your greatest fears is that your CEO will be “found out”. Ask the folks at Yahoo today how it feels to put out the reputation firestorm that has been ignited by Scott Thompson’s “little white lie”.

Now the folks at AT&T look like they may have a cringe-worthy moment as their CEO, Randall Stephenson, is telling folks that when their Android device doesn’t update it’s not AT&T’s fault, it’s Google’s. The following comes from 9 to 5 Google reporting on Stephenson talking at a wireless conference

Stephenson blamed Google, claiming, “Google determines what platform gets the newest releases and when. A lot of times, that’s a negotiated arrangement and that’s something we work at hard. We know that’s important to our customers. That’s kind of an ambiguous answer because I can’t give you a direct answer in this setting.”

It may have been ambiguous because he really didn’t know what he was saying. Google responded as follows

“Mr. Stephenson’s carefully worded quote caught our attention and frankly we don’t understand what he is referring to. Google does not have any agreements in place that require a negotiation before a handset launches. Google has always made the latest release of Android available as open source at source.android.com as soon as the first device based on it has launched. This way, we know the software runs error-free on hardware that has been accepted and approved by manufacturers, operators and regulatory agencies such as the FCC. We then release it to the world.”

I am not an expert on this by any means but it seems as if AT&T’s head honcho is not quite up on his P’s and Q’s. How does this make AT&T look to you? We live in a world where placing blame on others for failures is like a full time job for many people.

Should CEO’s be out in the wild if they are not completely aware of how their business operates? Going around and throwing out misinformed jabs at major partners is probably not the way it’s taught in business school these days. Or is it?

How do you feel about the reputation of a company when their leader does something like this or pulls a Scott Thompson?