Steve Elfman, the No. 2 executive at mobile content applications developer Motricity, is quitting the company.

In simultaneous announcements Monday, Sprint Nextel (NYSE: S) and Motricity disclosed that Elfman was leaving Motricity to take over as president of network operations and wholesale at Sprint. The announcement was made after the stock markets closed.

Elfman served as Motricity’s president after Motricity acquired the mobile business unit of Infospace last winter.

Earlier this month, Motricity announced it would lay off 250 of its 350 workers in Durham and move its headquarters from Durham to Bellevue, Wash. That’s where the InfoSpace unit that Motricity acquired last fall is based.

In its announcement, Motricity spelled out its post-layoff management team minus Elfman. No senior managers other than CEO and Chairman Ryan Wuerch who were listed on Motricity’s Web site are listed in the new executive leadership.

“I’ve known Steve Elfman for many years,” said Sprint Chief Executive Officer Dan Hesse in a statement. “He is a proven leader and innovator in wireless technology and data services, and he will fit well into our management team. In creating this position, we are leveraging advancements in our network technology and information systems to strengthen innovation in our products and services that we sell directly to our customers and to third parties. Steve also brings a wealth of experience in wireless applications and internet business models, which will be valuable expertise for Sprint as we create a more open environment for applications developers who wish to take advantage of the power of the nation’s largest wireless broadband data network.”

Both Hesse and Elfman are veterans of the telecommunications industry. Heese recently took over as CEO at Sprint from Embarq. Embarq is the local telecommunications division that Sprint spun off last year under Hesse’s direction. The two men worked together earlier in their careers at AT&T and Terabeam, according to MocoNews.

Elfman was at one time chief information officer at AT&T. He joined Infospace in 2003.

Elfman will assume the Sprint post on May 4. He served as president and chief operating officer at Motricity and was the No. 2 executive to Wuerch.

Motricity acquired the Infospace business unit for $135 million last October. The deal closed in January.

As part of the deal, billionaire Carl Ichan and other venture capital investors poured $185 million into Motricity. Motricity, which is privately held, has considered taking the company public, and the InfoSpace buy was seen as part of a growth strategy destined to make it more appealing to Wall Street.

“Steve is a great leader and he’s been instrumental to this company’s success,” Wuerch said in a statement. “We certainly don’t like losing him, but he leaves us in a very strong position. He’s built a great foundation for the business, and we have great momentum moving forward. Steve’s entire leadership team remains intact and will continue to lead our business. The team is executing against a very solid operating plan and we’re expecting strong results for the year – exceeding $100 million in net revenue.”

Motricity also announced a reshaping of its management team as the company prepares to move its headquarters to Bellevue. It will base its operations in Bellevue largely around the management team, employees and technology acquired through the Infospace business unit acquisition.

Wuerch remains as chairman and CEO. Other executives will be:

  • Bruce Reisenauer, senior vice president, product engineering and customer solutions
  • George Fraser, senior vice president, global sales and business development
  • Brendan Benzing, senior vice president, new product strategy and marketing
  • Joel Chaplin, senior vice president, IT operations and enterprise systems
  • Reed Thorkildsen, senior vice president, technology, research and development, and architecture