Starry Names New CEO: A Q&A with Chet Kanojia and Alex Moulle-Berteaux
Jun 13th, 2023
Starry today announced the appointment of Alex Moulle-Berteaux from Chief Operating Officer to Chief Executive Officer, succeeding Chet Kanojia, who has served as CEO of Starry since its founding.
We sat down with them both to discuss this important transition and what lies ahead for Starry as the company emerges from its Chapter 11 restructuring process. The following interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Q: You’re both co-founders of the company, but this is a pretty significant leadership transition announcement. Can you tell us why now and what was the thinking behind making this change?
CK: This leadership transition has been more than a year in the making. When Alex was elevated to COO, it was with the idea that he would eventually evolve and grow into the Chief Executive role. Alex is ready. He has proven himself an exceptional leader and now that we’ve got a clear path to exit our restructuring process, it’s time to make this change.
AMB: The timing for this announcement felt right. The last year has been challenging on so many different levels and the company needed to be in a place where we felt comfortable to drive this change. Now that the Court has confirmed our plan of reorganization and we have a clear path forward, it made a lot of sense to make this transition now.
CK: That’s right. On a personal level, it’s also important for me to dedicate more of my time and energy to focusing on my family and leave all of the day-to-day running of the company to Alex. It’s something, by the way, he’s very adept at.
Q: The last few months have been challenging, but you’ve continued to operate the company as normal. What does exiting the restructuring really mean for employees and customers? Can you walk us through what the next few months will look like for the company?
AMB: That’s a great question because most people don’t understand what a restructuring process entails. And you’re correct, Starry has been operating as normal during the entirety of our restructuring process, so from a customer perspective, our customers shouldn’t have detected any changes in their service or customer experience.
For our employees, it’s been a little bit different, as we’ve had to be somewhat more conservative as we’ve gone through the court process. That meant a laser-focus on our five active markets and the customers and partners we serve there. The good news is, now that the court has confirmed our plan of reorganization - which sets us on a path to formally exit the court restructuring process sometime this summer - we can start to execute additional plans that will stimulate growth for the business in our existing markets and hopefully, new ones.
But, don’t get me wrong - we’ve been busy these last few months! Our teams have made upgrades in our network to add additional capacity and resiliency; we’ve added new speed tiers including gigabit, so that customers can choose what internet service plan works best for their home; we launched wider availability of our WiFi 6 router, Starry Gravity; and we’ve made improvements to our mobile app to make it even easier to get the customer support you need, faster.
Over the next several months, we’ll continue to focus on products and features that add value for our building partners and enhance the overall customer experience. So stay tuned!
Q: Alex, how would you describe your management style? And how do you define a good leader?
AMB: I’ve been in a variety of different leadership roles throughout my career. I don’t think there’s a singular “AMB way” because I think a good leader, in many ways, adapts to the stage the company is in and the people, to draw the best out of them. I think my responsibility as a leader is to provide clear guidance on mission and goals and the path I think we need to take to be successful. However, I like when people speak up with new ideas or challenge a conventional line of thinking. If the path I’ve set out to achieve our goals is flawed, I want to hear that and know why.
I would describe myself as being a very collaborative leader - I don’t get caught up in titles or hierarchies, ideas come from everyone, but I do believe in mission alignment and making sure that everyone is rowing in the same direction. At the end of the day, I believe the best kind of leader is someone who can inspire and pull out the best in people and I believe in order to do that, people have to feel empowered, supported and feel aligned with the mission and goals of the company.
If I can do that successfully, we’ll be a better company.
Q: Taking a step back. There’s a lot going on in the world right now. The broader economic environment continues to feel turbulent, with the country just narrowly avoiding a banking and debt ceiling crisis and there are crazy wildfires blanketing the country with smoke, among other things. What are the things that keep you up at night and how do you keep people focused on the job at hand?
AMB: There’s a lot that keeps me up at night, but the thing that keeps me centered is focusing on our work at hand. It’s so clear to me what we need to do in order to be successful and continue to grow the company. I have a lot of conviction in the things we need to do in our next phase to continue to strengthen the company. And the thing that will drive our success is remaining insanely focused on the customer experience. That’s what will continue to distinguish us from our ‘Big Internet’ competitors, who burn and churn through customers. If we can delight our customers at every turn, we’ll win the day and grow our business.
My advice to folks would be: tune out the noise as best you can and focus on the things we can control and that’s how we show up to work every day, ready to work and ready to deliver on #HappyInterneting.