Entrepreneur Of The Year 2009
Road to Palm Springs
Virgin Mobile USA
With a solid record of success in the telecommunications industry, including a stint as CEO of priceline.com, Daniel Schulman was facing a tough challenge when he was named CEO of Virgin Mobile USA in September 2001. The prepaid mobile phone category had little respect when the startup was officially launched in 2002, and the economy was still reeling from September 11.
Undaunted, Schulman created the company’s innovative strategic plan and introduced the customer-centric innovations for which it is known. Under his leadership, Virgin Mobile went public in 2007 and executed the strategic acquisition of Helio in 2008. Today, it is the nation’s leading prepaid wireless carrier, with more than five million customers.
Virgin Mobile was early to recognize the growth in texting, introducing the first “penny texting” packages. Other innovations have included the creation of Sugar Mama, which allows customers to earn free minutes by watching ads online, and Rescue Ring, which allows blind daters to program their phone to ring in case they need to “escape.”
A community leader, Schulman has seized the opportunity to communicate with teenage customers about their responsibilities and has built awareness of homeless young Americans, while also integrating green values throughout the company.
Under a proposed $483 million acquisition of the company by Sprint Nextel, Sprint plans to retain the Virgin Mobile brand, with Schulman running Sprint’s prepaid business.