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AT&T’s Time Warner Overhaul Will Spark Employee Exodus

Since AT&T acquired Time Warner in June, the telecom giant has wasted no time in trying to remake the entertainment company for the digital era. It has announced plans to launch a Netflix-like streaming service by the end of 2019. Meanwhile it is reorganizing the former Time Warner businesses into a single division called WarnerMedia. In pursuing these goals, AT&T is sure to alienate many of the WarnerMedia employees, who are used to a more staid pace of change.

For that reason, we’re predicting the start of a mass exodus of employees from the old Time Warner next year. In particular, staff at the Turner cable division, which houses CNN, TNT and TBS and made up half of the revenue at Time Warner, are likely to disembark most aggressively. These defections will symbolize the cultural challenges that will play out for AT&T’s entertainment diversification in 2019, possibly hindering its ability to transform the business.

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WarnerMedia overseer John Stankey, for instance, has spent most of his career running strategy and operations within AT&T.