The instigator of the telecomm world is at it again, firmly injecting itself into the earnings season conversation — even on the days when it’s not reporting results. After taking potshots at Verizon last week, T-Mobile — the third-largest wireless carrier in the U.S. and a company with a $31 billion market cap — is back with a twin swipe against AT&T. Its preferred method of trolling? An earnings calldrinking game pegged to AT&T’s upcoming earnings call.
Never mind that coffee is the typical drink of choice for those covering earnings calls; never mind that it is downright ballsy to call out a competitor for using words and phrases that are essentially earnings call vernacular. (“Internet of Things,” really? If you want to use that phrase as a drinking game rule may I direct you to, say, Intel?) No matter: The ever-aggressive, always-flamboyant T-Mobile has taken upon itself to “predict” what AT&T will tell investors in its earnings call Tuesday afternoon and has turned those predictions into an honest-to-god drinking game:
A snippet of the “Earnings Call Drinking Game” T-Mobile is using to troll AT&T.
Among the “rules” of the game: take one drink every time AT&T says “profitable growth,” “internet of things” or “bundling.” Take two drinks if AT&T “nervously makes a Mexico/Donald Trumpreference to deflect from its slow progress down south,” “mentions Project Agile” or “hides phone losses under a mountain of cheap connected cars and free tablets.” Throwing significant shade at AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, T-Mobile glibly suggests that you take three drinks if “Randall actually shows up to his own earnings call,” if “they refer to their customers as ‘people’ and not ‘economic units,’” or if “they admit they can’t handle the pressure and exit wireless completely.” And finish your drink, says T-Mobile, if AT&T “admits its logo is really the Death Star,” “grows a heart and ends overages,” or “names Lily CEO (huge upgrade!)”
Representatives for AT&T did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In slight fairness to T-Mobile: they only pulled some of these ideas out of thin air. In AT&T’s third quarter earnings call on October 22, 2015, the telecom giant said “profitable growth” four times and “Project Agile” three times (with a fourth mention in an analyst question). “Internet of things,” however, was nowhere to be found, and the same can be said for “economic units” and “bundling,” a word that was only uttered when an analyst asked a question.
Though T-Mobile and AT&T have a rather fraught history — in 2011AT&T scuttled its plans to acquire T-Mobile for $39 billion after facing opposition from the Justice Department and FCC– this act of trolling isn’t limited to T-Mobile’s onetime suitor. Just last week, the company went after Verizon with a Verizon-flavored drinking game. Among the challenges: take one drink every time a Verizon exec says “Millennials,” take two drinks every time “Verizon talks about ‘monetizing’ something or someone (usually their poor customers)” and finish your drink if “Verizon admits its network advantage is gone.”
The drinking game that T-Mobile created for the purposes of taunting Verizon.
When asked about T-Mobile’s stunt, Verizon said that it is “happy if T-Mobile encouraged more people to take an interest in joining the call.”
Had you been imbibing along with that call, you wouldn’t have gotten very buzzed: in its fourth quarter earnings call on January 21, Verizon said “Millennials” just three times and a variant of monetize (monetizing, monetized, etc) seven times; the phrase “network advantage,” meanwhile, didn’t appear at all. (“Internet of Things,” however, appeared a whopping 11 times — too bad that one’s only a rule in the AT&T “game.”)
Verizon, it should be noted, beat Wall Street estimates with its top and bottom line results.
This is hardly the first brash stunt from T-Mobile. In October, the company hired a skywriter to inscribe “end overages now” over Verizon headquarters. On Sunday, the T-Mobile TwitterTWTR +0.00%account sent out a tweet implying that Verizon was, uh, preoccupied with its nether region. And back in August of 2014, T-Mobile CEO John Legere publicly suggested that Sprint start a Kickstarter to compensate for lost customer revenue.
T-Mobile can certainly dish it, but can it take it? One of the drinking rules in the Verizon game was to “take one drink every time Verizon completes a jargon-free sentence.” (Not to be nitpicky, but if the point of the game is to get drunk off of Verizon’s supposed mistakes, shouldn’t the rule be “take one drink every time Verizon utters a jargon-ridden sentence”?) If participants in T-Mobile’s third quarter earnings call in October had been following that rule, they wouldn’t have gotten much drinking in. “Our deployment of extended range LTE on 700 megahertz A block spectrum is way ahead of schedule” is not exactly the pinnacle of jargon-free dialogue. And laugh though it might at AT&T’s “Project Agile,” but T-Mobile has its own catchphrase addictions. Don’t believe me? Fine. Take a shot every time T-Mobile says “Uncarrier” in its earnings call on February 18. You may need to take a very early lunch.