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Tara Lachapelle

AT&T’s CEO Joins Disney's in Stepping Aside Mid-Makeover

Randall Stephenson’s vision is now John Stankey’s to deliver.

Randall Stephenson is leaving his successor a big to-do list in the middle of a crisis.

Randall Stephenson is leaving his successor a big to-do list in the middle of a crisis.

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

First Walt Disney Co.’s Bob Iger, and now AT&T Inc.’s Randall Stephenson. As two of the world’s most powerful entertainment and communications companies confront the streaming wars and the Covid-19 pandemic — bracing for what may be a new normal brought on by both — they’ll have to venture into the unknown under new leadership. 

Stephenson, who took a prosaic phone brand and morphed it into a hulking media and internet conglomerate with an eye toward a data-intense, video-centric future, is retiring after 13 years as CEO. He’ll be replaced on July 1 by John Stankey, another longtime AT&T executive who has served as Stephenson’s right-hand man, leading a series of gutsy acquisition efforts, including the DirecTV satellite business and Time Warner, an iconic Hollywood institution.