Nokia’s on the eve of reporting its third-quarter results on Thursday but some employees still believe their CEO is a mole.
Nokia CEO Stephen Elop issued a 1,300 word internal memo to the company’s employees in February. The memo revealed Elop’s thoughts about Nokia’s position in the mobile market. Elop admitted that competitors are doing better and that Nokia’s current ecosystem is a “burning platform”. Elop’s goal was to inspire a radical change at the company before announcing Nokia’s partnership with Microsoft’s Windows Phone.
The Global Post claims the memo didn’t work. One Nokia employee spoke anonymously to the site and describes empty car parks and the overall lack of will to work harder or longer hours. “When the company’s doing well, there’s a positive spirit overall. Now we don’t have much of that spirit,” they said. “Its very hard to work. People still do the hours that they are required to do by contract, but they don’t do any extra.” Another Nokia employee, David Weinehallm left the company in April and claims that it’s difficult to know where Elop’s loyalties lie. The claims are echoed by other anonymous employees that GlobalPost spoke to. One programmer suspects “Microsoft will wait for Nokia’s share price to fall a bit more, and then it will buy them out.” Another former Nokia manager, Tomi T Ahonen, describes Elop’s burning platform memo as “the most damaging CEO statement conceivable, and proof of ultimate management incompetence.”
The reports could be put down to disgruntled employees, after all Elop killed off a number of employees hard work by partnering with Microsoft. Nokia spokesman Doug Dawson told GlobalPost that the claims were baseless. “We established that we absolutely needed a change in strategic direction and it was critical to communicate our new strategy to all our stakeholders,” says Nokia spokesman James Etheridge. “In Tampere, many of our employees have moved to Accenture as of the start of this month as part of an outsourcing deal. It has been a large Symbian site and it is natural that people may feel frustrated,” he added.
Elop has previously addressed concerns he is a Microsoft mole, following the Windows Phone deal. Elop departed Microsoft in September 2010 and joined Nokia last year as the company’s CEO. The move fueled immediate speculation that Microsoft might partner with Nokia for Windows Phone. Elop fielded a number of questions after a press briefing during Mobile World Congress earlier this year. One audience member asked Elop if he was a “trojanhorse” (plant) by Microsoft. “The obvious answer is no. But however, I am very sensitive to the perception and awkwardness of that situation. We made sure that the entire management team was involved in the process…everyone on the management team believed this was the right decision,” said Elop.
Nokia is expected to unveil better than expected earnings on Thursday. The company’s first Windows Phone 7.5 devices will be unveiled at Nokia World in London next week and are expected to hit the shelves in November. Nokia appears to be preparing at least two Windows Phone devices. A number of different codenames and specification lists have emerged over the past few weeks, none of them yet confirmed. A number of Microsoft employees will also be speaking at Nokia World to detail the latest improvements with Windows Phone 7.5 and presumably some of Nokia’s software improvements. Nokia is believed to be preparing its “Sea Ray” device for the first official public unveiling, alongside another device codenamed the “Ace” or “Sabre”.