Matthew Carter, Jr., Inteliquent

Matthew Carter, Jr.

Leading Transformation

Editors’ Note

Matthew Carter, Jr. assumed his current role in 2015. Prior to joining Inteliquent, he served in various roles at Sprint. From 2010 until November 2014, he served as President of Sprint Corporation’s Enterprise, Emerging and Wholesale Solutions business unit. Prior to that, Carter served as president of Boost Mobile, part of Sprint’s prepaid group, from 2008 until 2010. He also served as Senior Vice President of Base Management at Sprint from 2006 until 2008. Prior to joining Sprint, Carter served in senior marketing roles at PNC Financial Services Group, Inc., Leap Wireless International, Inc., Royal Bank of Canada, and BellSouth Corporation. Carter holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Northwestern University and a Master of Business Administration from Harvard Business School.

Company Brief

Inteliquent (inteliquent.com) is a premier interconnection partner for communication service providers of all types. As the nation’s highest quality provider of voice and messaging services, Inteliquent is used by nearly all national and regional wireless carriers, cable companies, and long-distance carriers in the markets it serves, and its network carries approximately 21 billion minutes of traffic per month. With the recent launch of its Omni IQsm solution, Inteliquent is now also fully dedicated to supporting the growing market of next generation communication service providers. Inteliquent recently entered an agreement to be acquired by an affiliate of private equity firm, GTCR.

What excited you about coming to Inteliquent and what made you feel it would be the right fit?

Joining Inteliquent gave me the opportunity to be CEO of a public company. I like to think I’ve been building my career towards that goal. I love transformation; taking companies that need new energy and strategies and transforming them.

I’m not particularly good at being a maintenance worker with a company that is already a well-oiled machine.

I like a challenge, and Inteliquent was at a crossroads. It had been in a steady state of decline over the past three or four years. Inteliquent was made up of talented and innovative individuals invested in the success of the company. However, it had lost its way and was looking for a leader who could provide a new approach to growth strategy, one who could energize and motivate a team to believe in something new and different in an industry that is going through a great deal of change. This was the perfect calamity for me with no defined blueprint.

When you came in, how critical was it to communicate your vision?

Anytime change is introduced, there is always an element of resistance. I feel like part of my job as a leader is to help paint a vision that people can believe in, but I can’t do it by myself. Part of the job is bringing people along and getting them to take ownership. I didn’t want it to be all about my strategy.

I talked to various levels of our employees and got them to commit to where they thought we needed to go and how they felt we should get there. I echoed that, but with some of my own thoughts so they felt ownership. By giving them that sense, it helped them take a step forward out of their own comfort zones and jump onboard to help us lead this transformation.

Where is the business today and how do you see the company positioned?

Historically, we have been a single product company. We provide reliable telecom services, but the truth is that the communications industry is evolving and voice calls have been in a steady state of decline.

We had to focus on how to diversify our products to serve all types of customers. We knew that the amount of communication taking place through other platforms was growing, and we already had a nationwide network that could connect different types of communication. People are not necessarily making phone calls, but they are communicating more through text and mobile apps.

We were not participating in these emerging communication channels, so our focus shifted to building a product platform that would allow us to diversify the types of communications taking place.

Another way of stating it is that the world is increasingly becoming digital and demand for sophisticated communications connections – called Intelligent Connections – is growing. Intelligent Connections will transform how businesses use communications networks to reach their customers. Inteliquent provides a robust and reliable network that enables these types of new communications and participates in this ever-growing digital economy with our Omni IQ product line.

Over the past year, I worked diligently with our team to broaden our product platform and build new capabilities to diversify our set of offerings for customers in the marketplace.

In a competitive market like you’re in, how hard is it to show what makes Inteliquent unique?

Typically in the communications field, a company is in a niche – they’re either a software communications company or a traditional network company.

We felt our differentiation was through integrating the two and being a single-source provider in the marketplace. Typically, customers will buy their software and network services from different vendors. Our unique value proposition is that by integrating these two services, we can offer a one-stop-shop solution, making the purchasing process for the customer much easier and creating a more consistent and reliable customer experience.

How important is brand for you?

Our original name was Neutral Tandem and nobody understood who we were. When entering innovative areas where we combine software layer communications and deal with next-generation customers, such as app developers and Silicon Valley companies, the importance of brand is paramount.

We had to go through a brand transformation. The customers we are trying to attract want to know that they are relying on a company that has cachet and is innovative.

Is it challenging dealing with regulation and the short-term mentality that is prevalent today when you’re investing long-term?

That’s the balancing act I face as a public-company CEO. I look at the areas in which we are growing and want to put more money into them in order to go after those opportunities in a more accelerated way, but the markets often come down on me if they don’t understand those opportunities.

That’s the nature of the role, but this is what I signed up for. My job is to make sure I’m putting together a balanced approach because we have a diverse constituency. We have to ensure we’re hitting our quarterly targets for shareholders and we’re investing our capital prudently in new growth areas. It’s more art than science because we’re constantly trying to find the pulse of the market and balance things out. It’s not easy, but I view it as a wonderful challenge nonetheless and I have a great team.