Stephen Elop had a pretty thankless job when he took charge of Nokia as CEO. His association with Microsoft and the decision of adopting Windows Phone 7 however made it even more thankless.
Technology circles started calling him a Trojan horse.
However, a new book written by two Finnish journalists paints the former Nokia chief in an even lesser light. These two work for the local business newspaper Kauppalehti and interviewed hundreds of former Nokia employees. Though apparently, not Stephen Elop.
Still, the people who worked under Elop try to bring out the truth amidst the various conspiracy theories that claimed Elop was a Trojan horse working on Microsoft’s agenda.
Dubbed “Operation Elop”, bold statements are made in the book, terming Stephen Elop as one of the world’s worst chief executives, if not the worst. The conclusion being that someone else could have saved Nokia’s phone business — Elop was the wrong man to lead the company.
As the authors write:
“When Elop started (in 2010) Nokia’s smartphone sales were growing. Elop’s job was to plug the holes. No explanations needed. He failed on his own.”
The book goes over, what are being termed, monumental mistakes that Nokia made during his leadership. Withstanding the fact that they were probably made in good faith, these decisions ultimately led to the telecom giant’s demise and final purchase by Microsoft.
His inability to keep Nokia floating during his three years at the company is highlighted by the fact that the Finnish telecom titan had a market valuation of €29.5 billion ($37.4 billion) when he took charge, which went down to €11 billion ($14 billion) by the end.
Surely, some of the strategic decisions preceded Elop — the fact that Symbian was just not the right sort of an operating platform, one that could not compete with other solutions on the market, even if it was feature rich.
And interestingly, it was Nokia’s chairman Riso Siilasmaa (and the board) who made the final decision to sell off the phone business to Microsoft.
But the book seems like an illuminating read, and one can make a case that Microsoft made the right choice in their selection of CEO in Satya Nadella. Elop just doesn’t seem the type.