Meet the new boss: 2 Degrees' Eric Hertz

One hundred percent mobile penetration is nothing, says mobile challenger's new CEO

Thirty-two year telecommunications veteran Eric Hertz spent a month cycling with his wife around New Zealand in 1985. He loved it then, he says, and is looking forward to moving here to lead 2 Degrees' mobile launch next month.

Hertz (54) will return to the US this week, sort out some paper work, and be back by the end of the month, he says.

Hertz says Mike Reynolds' departure from 2 Degrees, announced at the same time as Trilogy International Partners bought a controlling shareholding in the company, really was a coincidence.

He says Reynolds will be making an announcement soon about a new job in Florida with a publicly listed company in the US.

The softly spoken CEO says his style and that of Reynolds are not that different. The two have known each other for over a decade having both worked for Bell South.

Hertz says he will be working side-by-side with Reynolds over the next couple of weeks to get up to speed and expects a smooth transition.

So how long does he plan to stay in New Zealand?

"As long as you'll have me," he says.

Hertz was introduced to New Zealanders this week as "Eric ..." after 2 Degrees' Wikipedia page was altered to announce major changes at the company.

He says he has done a lot in his time in telecommunications, working with incumbents, duopolies and start-ups, but he likes the stage of creating and building something new.

"We are bringing new services to New Zelaand that are starting to explode overseas," he says.

Hertz discounts comment that with over 100 percent mobile penetration, 2 Degrees will have trouble gaining traction.

"It's my belief that it's not about a share of 100 percent," he says. "It's about how to build penetration to 400 percent or 500 percent."

Hertz says that is about connected devices, not connected people. It's about phones, laptops, devices such as the Kindle book reader and even specialist devices such as heart monitors.

"That's where it's going in the next three, four, five years," he says.

2 Degrees has made an advertising play for New Zealanders' hearts, arguably beating its rivals in that sphere at least. But despite the nationalism in the advertising it is still 80 percent overseas owned.

Hertz says 2 Degrees is a service business and "it's all here". It doesn't have a corporate head office to support or fund, he says.

"We don't send profits to London," he says.

"Our success depends completely on what happens in New Zealand."

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