Sky Dayton Out As Helio CEO, Growth Stalling (SKM, ELNK)


A boardroom shake-up at Helio, the “virtual” wireless carrier jointly owned by Korean wireless giant SK Telecom and U.S. Internet service provider EarthLink (ELNK). Founding CEO Sky Dayton is getting kicked upstairs, where he’ll become non-executive Chairman. President/COO Wonhee Sull gets his old job.

Helio, which is trying to re-sell service on Sprint Nextel’s (S) network to young, free-spending, early-adopter types, has had some success: The company has developed some slick phones and software, and its subscribers spend more than $85 per month for service, about 70% more than the industry average. But Helio’s only hope of survival — fast growth — seems to be eluding it: Last October, the company said it hoped to end 2007 with 200,000 to 250,000 subscribers; today’s press release refers to “nearly 200,000 subscribers.”

The company says its December  2007 results give it an annual run rate of $240 million. But it hasn’t given any indication that it’s stopped burning SK Telecom’s cash hand-over-fist: During Q3, Helio lost $93 million on $51.7 million of sales. We expect to learn more about its Q4 and full-year performance, and its plans for 2008, when SK Telecom (SKM) reports earnings on Thursday.

See Also: Helio Revenue Outpaces Losses In Q3
SK Telecom Throws Helio A $270 Million Lifeline; EarthLink Backing Off