AT&T Communications CEO John Donovan to Retire

AT&T CEO John Donovan - Getty -H 2019
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Donovan will step down from the phone giant, effective Oct. 1, with his replacement still to be named.

AT&T Communications CEO John Donovan is set to retire from the phone giant, effective Oct. 1.

The company has yet to identify a replacement for Donovan, but said it would do so "soon" as AT&T-owned WarnerMedia is increasingly focused on building out a direct-to-consumer streaming business to battle Netflix, Apple and Amazon. 

"It’s been my honor to lead AT&T Communications during a period of unprecedented innovation and investment in new technology that is revolutionizing how people connect with their worlds," Donovan said Monday in a statement.

His departure follows AT&T acquiring Time Warner to form WarnerMedia and launch streaming offerings and drive growth from its shrinking traditional satellite TV business. With its recent merger, AT&T took control of Time Warner and its collection of media assets including HBO, Warner Bros., CNN and the Turner networks.

Donovan's departure also comes as AT&T is paving the way on the phone side to 5G. For two years, he led AT&T’s largest business unit that serves around 100 million mobile, broadband and pay-TV customers in the U.S.

"JD is a terrific leader and a tech visionary who helped drive AT&T’s leadership in connecting customers, from our 5G, fiber and FirstNet buildouts, to new products and platforms, to setting the global standard for software-defined networks,” said AT&T chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson.

He added, "JD is a good friend, and I wish him and his family all the best in the years ahead."

Donovan joined AT&T in 2008 as chief technology officer, where he oversaw the company’s global technology direction and innovation road map. He was then promoted to chief strategy officer and group president — AT&T Technology and Operations, before being named CEO of AT&T Communications in July 2017.