The break-up of Nokia, Elop and conspiracy theories

Yesterday was the anniversary of the acquisition of Nokia by Microsoft and more specifically of the mobile division in 2013, in a business deal that reached 5.4 billion euros (over 7 billion dollars at the time). It was a great moment in the history of mobile devices, as Nokia was the industry leader and the acquisition gave Microsoft access to a number of patents.

Unfortunately, history has shown that the two companies failed to create a predictable player against Android and iOS in the long run. Microsoft would exit the mobile market in 2017, returning in 2020 with the Surface Duo. In any case, the Microsoft / Nokia collaboration and the ensuing deal resulted in the development of a conspiracy theory,

According to this theory, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop in 2010, was planted by Microsoft. And the first rumors about it started long before Microsoft acquired Nokia. A participant in the MWC 2011 event, where the two companies announced their collaboration, asked Stephen Elop if that was what they were accusing him of. The CEO of Nokia refused, stressing that the entire leadership decided to go with Microsoft.

The Global Post first reported these allegations in October 2011, more than 8 months after the Nokia and Microsoft work together to develop a Windows Phone, entitled: Employees ask, is the CEO planted by Microsoft? I believe that Microsoft will wait for the price of Nokia shares to fall and then buy it, an employee had pointed out to this media. Another, had stressed: It is very suspicious, if he wanted the good of the company, why is he trying to destroy it and drop its price?

All these comments came after the publication of an internal letter from Elop, which said that Nokia is sitting on a fragile platform. It did not help that Elop had joined Nokia directly from Microsoft, which was in charge of the department that included Microsoft Office.

The truth is that Nokia was at a critical juncture. Symbian was not designed to touch from the start, the MeeGo platform was not moving forward and the first phone arrived late in late 2011.

But is there any truth to these theories? In addition to Elop’s aforementioned answer, perhaps the best answer is given by a book written by two Finnish journalists in 2014. Operation Elop by Pekka Nykänen and Merina Salminen contains interviews with many people who had a first-hand knowledge of what happened.

After hundreds of interviews we are fully convinced of one thing. The discussion about Elop has no basis. Microsoft did not place it at Nokia in order to buy it later at a low price.

The authors also pointed out that the theory had absolutely no basis, because Elop was chosen by the Nokia board. In addition, several high-ranking figures within Microsoft, such as Bill Gates and Satya Nadella, had strongly opposed Ballmer wanting to buy it. However, the book points out that Elop was the worst CEO in the world. Nokia was worth 29.5 billion the day before Elop became CEO and 11.1 billion when it was acquired.