Charter president and CEO Jerry Kent said that despite an active rumor mill surrounding the reasons for his resignation Monday, the decision to leave the company was surprisingly simple: he and Charter chairman Paul Allen just didn't get along.
"Paul and I just didn't see eye to eye on a lot of different things," Kent said in a telephone interview. "It wasn't working for me and frankly it wasn't working well for the company going forward. So, for the best interest of myself and my family and for the company, it was decided it was better for me to move on."
Kent's employment agreement with Charter expires on Dec. 23, and would have been automatically renewed had he not given Charter 90-days' notice of his intentions. Monday was the last day Kent had to reject the contract
Kent wouldn't give specifics on what he and Allen disagreed on, but added that there was no recent catalyst that influenced his decision.
"It's been going on for a long time," Kent said. "I've tried to buffer my people; I've tried to buffer all shareholders from the friction between Paul and I. Maybe that's why it was a surprise, but I was trying to make it work. I didn't want it to affect my people nor our public stockholders. But it just got to the point where because of that it just became really, really stressful for me. It wasn't going to work, it just wasn't going to work."
Kent also dismissed rumors that the friction between him and Allen began with Allen's personal investment in cable overbuilder RCN Corp.
"I'll give Paul credit, they checked with me to make sure I wouldn't be totally upset before they invested in RCN," Kent said. He added that rumors that Allen was planning to purchase RCN outright are untrue.
Kent also dismissed speculation that he and Allen were feuding over possibly getting involved in a purchase of or investment in AT&T Broadband or that Kent himself may emerge as the head of AT&T's cable unit.
Kent said he will take the next several weeks off and then determine what his next move will be. He added that he has no non-compete agreement with Charter, so technically he could walk into another cable job after Friday, when his resignation takes effect.
"I've been doing this for 18 years without a break," Kent said. "Also, I've been going at 110 miles and hour for a long time and I could use a rest. I'm not going to be gone for long."
Kent said that he hasn't ruled out remaining in the cable industry, but added that he has other options as well.
"If I get back into cable, it means I'll probably be in cable the rest of my life," Kent said. "But I'm also young enough at 45, that I think I can go a different career path if I find something I want to do."
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