AT&T Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson speaks during a Washington Economic Club discussion on technology and telecommunications in Washington, DC, on March 20, 2019.
Mandel Ngan—AFP/Getty Images
By Alan Murray and David Meyer
May 21, 2019

Good morning.

Who won the Iron Throne? I confess: I don’t know. I missed the Game of Thrones finale Sunday, and then spent all day yesterday avoiding potential spoilers who wanted to talk about it.

But in my book, the throne belongs to AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, whose company now owns HBO, and all the rest of the Time Warner empire. (Apparently, a replica of the iron throne has been installed at AT&T headquarters in Dallas.) My colleague Geoff Colvin calls Stephenson’s integration task “breathtaking in scale and scope.” I agree. At a time when every company is engaged in transformation, Stephenson’s is “the largest transformation underway at any Fortune 500 company.” He’s taking on Disney, Comcast, Apple, Amazon, Netflix—and, of course, Verizon—all at once. As analyst Craig Moffett puts it, “his goal is nothing less than the complete reinvention of the media ecosystem.”

Can he succeed? Given the checkered history of media mergers, and the sheer ambition of this particular task, you would have to say the odds are about as good as defeating the army of the dead at the Battle of Winterfell. But Stephenson has emerged as one of the most interesting business leaders of our times. He deserves credit in particular for his bold plan to retrain the AT&T work force—a model for the modern tech era. He just might pull it off. And in any event, it will be fun to watch.

You can read Geoff Colvin’s fascinating piece on AT&T, which is in the new edition of Fortune magazine but available online this morning, here. And our 2017 story about Stephenson’s pathbreaking training initiative is here.

Also out this morning: Robert Hackett’s piece on the race to develop quantum computing.

More news below.

Alan Murray


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