Virgin Mobile USA: Last MVNO Hero

[qi:053] If you had to pick one mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) whose success has spawned dozens of copycats (most of them failures), then you have to go with Virgin Mobile USA. By focusing on the younger demographic, the company has snagged about 4.83 million customers.

A joint venture of Sprint (S) and Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, Warren, N.J.-based Virgin Mobile (VM) went public today. Its shares were recently changing hands for $16, up 6.7 percent. Late Wednesday, the company priced 27.5 million shares at $15 each, raising about $412.5 million, reports Reuters. The new cash will be used to pay down its debt and buy out Sprint, whose stake currently stands at 16.7 percent.

The company had revenues of $667 million for the first six months of 2007 and a net profit of $26 million. And that took six years. My advice to all MVNO wannabes: Pick another way to spend your working life. Like managing the Yankees – I hear there might be a job opening soon.