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Edward Whitacre Jr.

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Edward Earl Whitacre Jr. (born November 4, 1941) is the former Chairman and CEO of General Motors. He is also a former chairman of the board and chief executive officer of AT&T Inc., previously Southwestern Bell Corporation (SBC). He served as national president of the Boy Scouts of America from 1998 to 2000. On September 1, 2010, Whitacre stepped down as CEO, and retired as chairman of the board by the end of 2010.[3][4]

Edward Whitacre Jr.
ChevyVoltFirstBattery02 (4267809958).jpg
Whitacre in 2010, presenting the first production battery for the Chevrolet Volt.
Edward Earl Whitacre Jr.[1]

(1941-11-04) November 4, 1941 (age 78)
ResidenceSan Antonio, Texas, U.S.
EducationB.S. Industrial Engineering
Alma materTexas Tech University
Occupationbusiness executive and consultant
Known forleadership of Southwestern Bell Corporation/AT&T Inc., and General Motors
Political partyRepublican[2]

Life and careerEdit

Whitacre was born in Ennis, Texas. He graduated from Texas Tech University with a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering and is a member of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity.[5][6]

He began his career with Southwestern Bell in 1963 as a facility engineer.

In October 1988, Whitacre became president and chief operating officer of a regional bell operating company, Southwestern Bell Corporation. Two years later, Whitacre became chairman of the board and chief executive officer. In 1995, Southwestern Bell Corporation changed its name to SBC Communications. Whitacre led SBC through a series of mergers and acquisitions in building the largest provider of both local long distance telephone services and wireless service (through its Cingular division) in the United States. These acquisitions included Pacific Telesis (1997), SNET (1998), Comcast Cellular (1999), Ameritech (1999) and AT&T Corporation (2005), from which the post-merger company took its name, as well as the 2006 acquisition of Bell South.[7]

On June 23, 2006, he and the CEO of BellSouth were brought in under the Senate Antitrust Subcommittee following the AT&T-BellSouth merger. Whitacre was questioned regarding possible customer information leaks to the NSA in the interest of national security.[7] There had been allegations by former AT&T technician Mark Klein that such work had been done in Room 641A of the San Francisco offices.[7]

Whitacre's compensation totaled $61 million in 2006,[8] $17 million in 2005, and about $14 million in 2004.[9]

In 2006, Whitacre famously declared that companies like Google, Yahoo! or Vonage should not be able to “use the pipes for free.” [10]

On April 27, 2007, at the AT&T annual stockholders meeting, Whitacre announced his intent to retire as chief executive officer and chairman of the board, effective June 3. The board of directors elected Randall Stephenson to succeed Whitacre as new CEO and chairman. Whitacre retired on June 4, 2007, with Randall Stephenson taking over the following morning. Upon retirement, Whitacre was eligible for a $158 million payout from AT&T.[8] Following retirement, under his employment contract, Whitacre was entitled to receive some continuing benefits, including automobile use, access to AT&T's corporate aircraft for up to ten hours per month, use of AT&T office facilities and support staff, home security, and club memberships, as well as payment of applicable taxes resulting from these benefits, except for use of the aircraft. In addition, Whitacre has a three-year consulting contract with AT&T for which he is paid about $1 million annually.[11] It has been reported that during his tenure at AT&T, Whitacre offered Randall Stephenson three words of advice via text message when the executive change was announced: "Give 'em hell".[12]

BusinessWeek (1999) reported that, although the CEO of AT&T — amongst the largest and most influential names in telecommunications and its surrounding technology, Whitacre did not use e-mail or have a computer at his office.[13]

As General Motors chairman and interim CEO, Whitacre does have a computer at his office and prefers to answer e-mail via BlackBerry.[14]

In May 2008, Whitacre was elected to the board of directors for ExxonMobil.[15]

On June 9, 2009, General Motors named Whitacre as chairman.[16] He took the position when the automaker emerged from bankruptcy proceedings on July 10, 2009.[17] On December 1, 2009, Whitacre became interim CEO following Fritz Henderson's resignation.[18] Since taking the helms, he has been dubbed the GM Reaper by many in blogs, noted for his strong desire to "kill off" brands and projects, such as Saab and a sub-Volt Toyota Prius competitor planned for Chevrolet. In January 2010, chairman Whitacre was appointed permanent CEO after serving in the post in an interim capacity. On September 1, 2010 he relinquished the CEO position to Daniel Akerson but agreed to continue on as GM Chairman to the end of the year.[19]

In February 2014 it was announced that he will deliver the Spring Commencement address for University of the Pacific's Stockton campus on May 10, 2014 at Alex G. Spanos Center.[20]

He continues to live in San Antonio, but frequently travels to Detroit.[21]


AT&T headquarters in downtown Dallas was dubbed "Whitacre Tower" in honor of Whitacre's 44 years at the company, 17 of which were spent as chairman and CEO.

In 2004, he was awarded an honorary doctorate degree by the University of the Incarnate Word.[22]

On November 12, 2008, Texas Tech announced that its college of engineering will be renamed the Edward E. Whitacre Jr. College of Engineering. In 2007, AT&T created an award called the "Whitacre Award" to honor the former chairman.

Whitacre was inducted into the Junior Achievement U.S. Business Hall of Fame in 2009.

In 2010, Whitacre was named as a finalist for Texan of the Year.[16]


  • American Turnaround: Reinventing AT&T and GM and the Way We Do Business in the USA. 2013. ISBN 1455513016


  1. ^ "Digest of Other White House Announcements". Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents. Government Printing Office. 38 (2). January 14, 2002.
  2. ^
  3. ^ GM's Whitacre Steps Down as CEO, Replaced by Akerson
  4. ^ "Dan Akerson to Become CEO, Whitacre Remains Chairman" (Press release). General Motors. 2010-08-12. Retrieved 2010-08-14.
  5. ^ In an editorial on the occasion of Whitacre's relinquishing the leadership of GM, the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal expressed that Whitacre "very positively reflected on Texas Tech with what he accomplished" ("Whitacre's job turning around GM helps America and reflects well on Texas Tech". Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. 2011-01-15. p. A6. Retrieved 2011-01-21.
  6. ^ University, Texas Tech (1963). "La Ventana, vol. 038". hdl:2346/48703. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  7. ^ a b c Wu, Tim, The Master Switch, New York : Random House, 2010. Cf. especially Chapter 18, "The Return of AT&T", pp.238-253.
  8. ^ a b Washington Post: Long-Serving AT& T Chief To Leave With Huge Payout
  9. ^ Gubbins, Ed, "Whitacre's Worth", Telephony Online, Connected Planet, February 20, 2006
  10. ^ Ryan, Patrick, "Everyone already pays their fair share", Policy by the Numbers, December 14, 2011
  11. ^ 2007 AT&T Proxy Statement[permanent dead link]
  12. ^ "New CEO Takes Over Telecom Giant AT&T" Archived 2012-11-07 at the Wayback Machine, The Associated Press, Sunday, June 3, 2007
  13. ^ BusinessWeek RESUME: Edward E. Whitacre Jr.
  14. ^ Scott, David Meerman, "Open letter to Ed Whitacre, new interim CEO of GM", December 03, 2009
  15. ^ "Edward E. Whitacre Jr. Elected to ExxonMobil Board", ExxonMobil news release, May 28, 2008
  16. ^ a b "Editorial: Texan of the Year finalist Ed Whitacre", The Dallas Morning News, 21 December 2010
  17. ^ Chang, Sue (06-09-2009). "Edward Whitacre Jr. named new GM chairman". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 06-09-2009. Check date values in: |accessdate=, |date= (help)
  18. ^ "GM Statement Attributed To Chairman Ed Whitacre", GM Press Release, December 1, 2009
  19. ^ Vlasic, Bill, "G.M. Chief Sees I.P.O. As Exit Sign", The New York Times, August 19, 2010 (August 20, 2010 print edition)
  20. ^
  21. ^ Hendricks, David (June 24, 2009). "China's SAIC noncommittal on stake in GM IPO". The San Francisco Chronicle.
  22. ^ "SBC's Whitacre will receive honorary doctorate", San Antonio Business Journal, Tuesday, May 4, 2004

External linksEdit