Surprising news from AT&T today: It says that Vice Chairman Ralph de la Vega will retire at year end.
The Cuba-born exec was an early proponent of wireless connectivity, and famously forged a deal with Apple’s Steve Jobs that gave AT&T first crack at offering the iPhone.
Recently he has led AT&T’s charge for what’s known as the Internet of Things — wireless connections to devices other than phones and tablets.
The telco has tapped AT&T Mexico CEO Thaddeus Arroyo to replace de la Vega as CEO of AT&T Business Solutions and International. SVP of Strategy for Business Solutions Kelly King will take charge of AT&T Mexico.
De la Vega had a compensation package of $10.1 million in 2015, making him AT&T’s second highest paid executive after CEO Randall Stephenson.
The departure appears to have been unexpected. This week the company listed de la Vega as a presenter at a gathering for developers that AT&T plans to hold in Las Vegas next month during the Consumer Technology Association’s CES conference.
AT&T did not issue a press release with laudatory comments from colleagues, which is customary when long time, high level, and high profile executives retire.