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November 14, 2007

McCaw says he's not ready to sell Clearwire

Posted by Tricia Duryee at 3:26 PM

Clearwire's stock took a pounding, dropping 25 percent last Friday, after the company said it and Sprint Nextel were abandoning their plans for a partnership.

Since then, the stock has regained some ground, closing today at $15.92, up from $13.49 on Friday.

Perhaps that has something to do with a story in today's Wall Street Journal.

The story includes an interview with the company's founder and chairman, Craig McCaw. It details a lot of the background conversations Clearwire was having with Sprint that led to the letter of intent Clearwire and Sprint signed in July.

But the most telling remark in the whole story may have been McCaw's final comment.

There's so much rumor and speculation on what will happen -- whether print will spin off its WiMax unit; or Clearwire will be bought by Comcast or Google; or Sprint and Clearwire will merge.

The story doesn't answer any of those questions.

But McCaw seemed committed on one thing. True, he needs more money; true he's got a lot left to build, the least of which is confidence in Wall Street that WiMax has a future. But he's not willing to sell -- not yet.

He said: "You can't build to sell. If you build to sell, you're not building anything of sustained value."

For anyone who is familiar with McCaw, this probably isn't too much of a surprise. He is a serial entrepreneur, starting and running a number of communication companies over the years. He won big when he sold McCaw Cellular Communications to AT&T, but lost fairly big with the closure of Teledesic, a satellite venture.

But, for better or worse, he's gone along for the ride to the very end in most cases.

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Tricia Duryee
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