Nokia employees still worried that Elop is a Microsoft mole

By Tom Warren, on 19th Oct 11 12:34 pm with 87 Comments

Nokia CEO Stephen Elop

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”.

  • DonC

    It was entirely obvious to anyone external to Nokia that Symbian was a burning platform.

    It had no hope against iOS, Android and WP7.

    • Tom

      People have a difficult time admitting when they’re wrong.  Especially when external circumstances change.

      Just look at Yahoo.  Their employees had the same reaction to Microsoft — and look where they are now.

    • Seb

      “People have a difficult time admitting when they’re wrong”

      Yup, especially when they’ve been doing the “wrong” thing for so long, and have so much invested in it.

    • AlienSix

      Your right, look how long MS stayed with WM, and how Ballmer laughed the iPhone, and iPad and put down Android, and how the Board keeps allowing Ballmer to be the CEO and how some people think that WP7 will ever be anything but 10% market share…yep you are right people have a difficult time admitting when they’re wrong.

    • OMG55

      Microsoft’s only mistake was getting confortable with profits from Windows & Office therefore, not investing and focusing on their mobil OS because WinMo was such a small product the didn’t generate much revenue. From a business standpoint, it makes sense if you objective is profit, business generally stock the items that make them money. But now MS is investing money in the future and making good moves despite your thoughts. MS has alway capitalized because they reach out to the masses and not sects or cults (eventually they dry up… the iphone & Android will go because people want to be different, they don’t want to blend in); right now everyone has an iphone or Android device…..Eventually they will want something everyone else doesn’t have because that’s how people are, “They follow the latest trend”.

    • AlienSix

      @4f27ce62a59a8ea75556e8f35daa61b8:disqus “sects or cults” vs “right now everyone has an iphone or Android”  your contradicting yourself!

      WP7 has 2% market share Apple 26% Android is 56% which two is mass market sales and which one is a niche customer base

    • Sarah_gilbert

      MSFT is the only company from the eariler phone era to reinvent itself with WP7. Rest all have died or about to die.

    • Chris

      Even on a smaller platform like WP7 it still has no hope. 

    • Tuxplorer

      WP7 is the greatest and most innovative smartphone OS in the world. Of course, WP7 is Nokia’s ONLY hope.

    • Chris

      is that why it took ms to get up to speed with some of the features….

      I will give MS credit.  took them a lot less time to add copy and paste then it did apple.. 

    • Guest

      It still sales better then WP7…

    • Guest2009

      Shall we talk about Linux and it’s 1% desktop marketshare since… forever?

    • Guest

      Yet 56% in Mobile 

    • Frylockns86

      Exactly. I don’t remember the last time I even saw a Symbian device. 

  • Ronit Kumar

    Oh! Nokia employs need to see WebOS or Blackberry for that matter. WebOS was good, but Win 8 is terrific, also Elop has given them a big chunk in the Microsoft 3 screen strategy. Hardly did i seen people this excited for a Nokia phone and holding their purchases just to see what Nokia releases. They should rather thank that man.!!

  • Anonymous

    I can see where they’re coming from. Elop does sorta look like a fuzzy headed, beady eyed, ‘lil mole.

    • Anonymous

      Haha! I am painting the caricature in my head right now thanks to this description. I like Steve, but this is too funny!

  • Sage is Free

    Stupid people who ran Nokia into ground, are cursing Elop for taking the hard decisions that are necessary for Nokia to survive….

    • Anonymous

      Exactly.  People that think Elop is destroying Nokia must have a really short memory or just didn’t pay attention to the fact that Nokia fell long before Elop took over.  It is because Nokia was failing that they hired Elop in the first place. 

      If his plan doesn’t work then criticize him for it then, but at least see what happens first.  They seem to act like they know what should be done but if that was the case, why didn’t they take that action before they fell so far?

    • Anonymous

      The writing has been on the wall for a long time.  The smartphone market will be dominated by the big 3 computer giants, MS/Apple/Google and the traditional cell phone guys will either ally with one of these (HTC, Samsung, Moto), or fade away (Palm, RIM).  You would have to have your head buried in the sand to think Nokia would be any different.  Putting my fanboyism aside, I honestly do think allying with MS over Google was Nokia’s best chance.  Android market is very crowded and MS and Windows Phone users are desperate for a hero OEM.

    • Sage is Free

      Exactly, actually wanted to write what you posted.. but my rant was getting too big :).

    • Guest

      Yes but WP7 users are so few :(

    • Sarah_gilbert

      Few is an opportunity, isn’t it?

    • AndyD

      few = failure

    • Anonymous

      Android was very few also till Verizon championed them with the droid commercials because they couldn’t get the iPhone.  Windows Phone needs a champion.  Nokia might be it. 

    • Guest

      Well, two for sure: Apple and Google. MS is still a dark horse. It’s too soon to know if Nokia made the right choice. They certainly made the gutsier one. I agree though with the concerns you list had they gone Android. It’s all going to come down to Nokia and MS’s execution and whether they both waited too late. MS’s execution so far hasn’t been as good as it needs to be. And I guess we’ll find out about Nokia’s shortly and then in the months ahead.

    • Mobile user

      Good post. Actually I read on business week or somewhere, he first went with Andorid as he can utilize the *nix skillset he has with the company. Google showed him a middle finger for the customizations they requested (especially maps and navigation where google makes money from OEMs). Microsoft was willing to go extra step to get a Star OEM who has quality in producing phones.
      I think quite a lot of these employees are to blame for symbian and meego debacles. I hope they comeback strong with WP7 phones as many including me are waiting to see the phones from Nokia before buying WP7 phones.

    • Harvey

      Now THAT’S how you spell it out!  Very nice post Sage.

    • Sage is Free


    • David

      Every single word makes sense. THUMBS UP

    • Just Visiting

      @Sage is Free…Wow, very valuable and detailed insight!  Sadly, many fans of Symbian and Harmatten-Meego just don’t accept this logic and reason; they are filled with hate, and will blame Stephen Elop for everything, and will not give him credit for any positive outcomes. 

      Would love to see you chime in over at MyNokiaBlog.

    • Guest

      The definitive comment on this piece. Nothing to add. Well done.

    • Justforsubs

      Hello. I live in europe and I agree with the agreement between nokia and microsoft. It’s important to have nokia growing too again. It’s an excelent oportunity.

    • Kimck99


      Sage, this is by far the most intelligent, well thought out “rant” I’ve read in a long time on any topic on any forum. Well done sir.

      Separately, I feel that Nokia did the right thing and Elop was brave (had the balls) to make this decision. It’s interesting to see what is or might happen to RIM as they are currently on the same path that Nokia was in 12 months ago. I fear that if RIM doesn’t make some strategic (bold) move, they will be a lost company – more so than they are now.

      Kudos to you.

    • Anonymous

      I think the biggest problem with Elop as a CEO is telling everybody you are abandoning Symbian and Meego for Windows Phone before actually making any transistion what so ever.  This was a huge mistake!   Begin the transistion before making the announcement so their isn’t a huge drop in phone sales because everyone knows the platform is dead.  I would have been pissed if I was a Nokia shareholder.  I don’t blame Nokia for changing platforms but it could have been handled better for the company.

    • TomiA

      You hit the nail on the head, people can argue over the decision and time will tell if it was good or not, but the execution of the decisions was one of the worst managed in the history of Corporations, never has a CEO inflicted a combination of Market Capitalization and Market Share Loss upon his company before.  

    • Xhhbtrdjd

      I buy you to be naked, will you do it?

      Nokia has natural advantage on Mobile OS. Windows phone is dead without Nokia. How much do these cost?

    • Anonymous

      Crap. I have a N9 and its just an awesome device (hardware AND software) which is at least on par with mango feature-wise. Ovi Store was growing at a fast rate and had half the number of downloads of the android store. Nokia’s strategy was slowly but steadily paying off. I have nothing against wp7, but elop’s decision may very well go down in history as one of the biggest blunders of a CEO. Of course from an american perspective the whole thing looks different, because wp7 is the only thing that can make nokia break into the american market.

  • Lewis McCrary

    Chalk it up to disgruntled employees.  Even in the most successful companies you’re going to have people who just like to bad mouth.

  • Gamer

    I trust that he isn’t but even if so and Microsoft bought Nokia, I’d be more happy since I’ve more than 10000 shares on Nokia when it plunged below 4.5.

  • Anonymous

    Steven Elop and all the board of directors at Nokia are…. ALL MICROSOFT moles, since they collectively made the decision to go for Windows Phone :) 

    • Sarah_gilbert

      So what?

    • Justforsubs

      … In that way ALL motorola board guys are google moles too…

  • Chris

    Nokia still parties like its 1999….

    • Anonymous

      Still using Prince references like it’s 1989 …

    • Guest

      Having to copy the idea is just sad…

  • Anonymous

    “Nokia employees still worried that Elop is a Microsoft mole”

    Pathetic. Has not he asked to go for Nokia. They hired.

  • JimmyFal

    Well they did hire a former MS guy; they must have suspected that he might be bringing over some of what he KNEW was going on at MS. And he would only be there to help the situation, because NOT helping would certainly not reflect well on him. I wish reporting these days was more of a “this is one side of the story, and here is the other side of the story”. Now you decide about the story. When did that all disappear from reporting?

    • Anonymous

      Beside, when you hire someone like Elop aren’t you hiring him for his business connections too?  I thought his connection to Microsoft would be seen as an asset.

    • Guest

      “When did that all disappear from reporting?”

      A very long time ago. Now reporting is an editorial reflecting the particular writer’s bias.     

  • Anonymous

    mole or not, if it isn’t for MSFT, nokia will go the RIM way. The android market is saturated with junk and for nokiat to stand out, it needs to be different. going android and being like every sheep out there would be the kiss of death.

    • Sarah_gilbert

      And they would have to pay royalty to MSFT anyways :)

  • Anonymous

    They are calling Elop a mole because their company is partnering with one of the biggest tech companies in the industry? They should be happy about it. If they didn’t have this deal with Microsoft their company was on its way to irrelevantancy.  

  • Seb

    love conspirecies when usually the truth is much more straight

  • Eingoluq

    To be honest I dont think it was entirely intentional, but it was a situation that came at the right point in time and stupid to not take advantage of. Its like ballmer said about the Yahoo non-acquisition. “Sometimes you get lucky!”

  • Anonymous

    Microsft has never bought a company at its “low level” so why would they want to ruin Nokia just to buy it .. couldnt they have bought Motorola.. which happens to have much more patents? These workers are just fools !!

    • Anonymous

      Probably racist or something.

    • AlienSix

      Very Good!

  • McAkins Online

    Simple statement to those sense employees who couldn’t see they were out of the competition: If Elop is a mole, he must be the worst mole in whole world, because Nokia is getting more out of the deal than Microsoft does. Period.

    People like me are now waiting for Nokia’s devices, I would never have considered Nokia with Symbian nor with Meego. They’ve got potentially more customers now because of the deal, and they are getting boat-load of money and special access to Windows Phone. Elop should sue those idiots.

  • Guest

    If they don’t like Elop why they don’t just leave and be quiet? I think Elop would be glad for that.

  • Anonymous

    As I said again and again, stupid people are always the majority. That’s why the true democracy fails. Everyone have the same value of vote, not matter your IQ is 60 or 120.

  • Anonymous

    These employees think with their emotions rather than business logic. No wonder they are failing. Nokia doesn’t need this attitude from their employees. On a long term business thinking, Microsoft’s ecosystem fits and makes sense for Nokia. Oh well, it’s also really hard to blame employees, change is HARD.

  • Anonymous

    People don’t understand that the transition to Windows Phone was NOT done just by Elop, it had to be approved by the entire board of directors and majority shareholders. Staying on Symbian would’ve been a disaster, time to admit it. If Nokia doesn’t penetrate US market, Symbian wouldn’t matter. Nokia was once a leader in smartphones, in fact they were pretty much the only manufacturer of smartphones, they had to make a change to get that place back.

    • Michael Schwartz

      And why do you think Nokia didn’t penetrate the US market? There are things that are way above us and people that control these markets. For a democratic country, the US market is very closed to external products.

      No doubt it wouldn’t have ever penetrated the US market and I’m sure Microsoft (and many other corporations) have made sure all those years, Nokia wouldn’t become a recognized US brand.

      On the other hand, Microsoft has been as good at making phones as apple has been at making Macs(they’re PCs now aren’t they?) so this was Microsoft’s only choice, Millions of loyal customers that love Nokia as a brand and will buy a Nokia out of inertia.

      I’m curious though, how much this inertia will last. I’s obvious for everybody who has used smartphones before it was a trend that Android is the new Symbian. On the other hand Windows phone is an alienating experience which I personally hate. Why all the functions we had back with winmo 6.5 are so hard to implement and take so long I do not know.

      If MS will buy out Nokia as Google did with Motorola I don’t know, they might. Motorola simply wasn’t able… ever… no matter the OS… If Nokia will have the same fate only Finns will know if it was Elop’s fault or not.

      As for shareholders and directors, what do they know about smartphones? Didn’t they let the previous CEO (OPK) run the company into the ground? They did. All they do care about is money and MS had lots to offer and very quickly. Windows mobile hasn’t generated not even 10% of the enthusiasm generated by Meego and N9… yet meego is cancelled.

      I’m looking forward to the next windows OS, looking forward to seeing it on tablets and looking forward to see MS focus on what matters ant at what they are good at.

      I’m also looking forward for Balmer to retire. He is not a visionary as Bill Gates was, on the contrary, he has no clue… He first criticized iPhone for being the most expensive phone on the market, now he criticizes androids for being to cheap… Yet Android generates more revenue from patents than all the Windows phones together. Steve Jobs was a smart bully… Balmer is just a redneck.

    • Guest

      “For a democratic country, the US market is very closed to external products.”

      Yeah, that probably explains why our balance of trade deficit with China is the highest in the world. Oh right, nevermind.

    • Guest

      You see. I had Palm V. I only had it because Microsoft Pocket PC was too expensive at that time.

      Then I had Windows Mobile 2003 and then Windows Mobile 6.0 and 6.5.

      I now have Windows Phone 7 for about one year. I can tell you that especially now with Mango I really don’t give a shit for all those Windows Mobile 6.5 features you’re moaning about. My Windows Phone 7 has everything I need and it is the most useful smart phone that I ever had.

    • Michael Schwartz

      @64fd90bcd4f54ff13564c9f18a58fbf0:disqus You don’t really have to take it as criticism or like a fanboy. There are reasons why Nokia never really made it into the US until now (and by now I mean soon). There are also reasons why you might think Palm or windows mobile are very cool… you’ve never used symbian.

      To put it short Android ICS finally sums up (and ads more) to the features in symbian v9.2, that being sometime in 2005 – 2006. Mango brings a lot to the table, but I would have expected that a lot and the wm 6.5 features to be available at start for windows mobile.

      Microsoft did not bully their way into the mobile market like Apple, they did not steal patents, they did not steal designs, didn’t claim originality and they didn’t make a lot of useless noise. That I respect. But the fact that “IT’S MICRO f*king SOFT” made me expect a lot more from this new-gen OS.

  • Anonymous

    “Nokia is expected to unveil better than expected earnings on Thursday”

    Er.. some logic loop regarding what’s expected there I think!

    • Guest

      LOL. In reality it’s common to have a “whisper” number that is higher than consensus. So there can be (market) expectations that are better than (analyst) expectations.

  • oolong2

    It’s really no surprise that there would be anomosity in the company.

    1.  Elop is a “new guy” that isn’t Finnish or Scandanavian
    2.  There are massive layoffs taking place which doesn’t make the “new guy” very popular.
    3.  They are dumping a platform they have been behind for over a decade.

    Of course Nokia has been negotiating with Microsoft off and on LONG before Elop got there and utilmately it has little to do with Microsoft and more to do with Nokia’s board.

    But it doesn’t change the fact that the entire culture of the company is changing so it’s to be expected that it will be at least a year before things really settle.   Until then people are going to be uneasy and pissed….

    • Sarah_gilbert

      Nokia board came to Ballmer and cried, “SAVE US”. Ballmer helped them by sending the Office President. What’s wrong with that? Its pure business.

    • Guest

      What is wrong is that he sent an incompetent fool who destroyed over 45 billion dollars in value in one year a rate that has never been seen in the history of capitalism.    

    • Sarah_gilbert

      I guess you right, but you have to admit Ballmer does not have the ability to actually be strategic enough to plan it!  LOL 

    • Guest

      Nokia was poised to lose that market cap anyway.  Elop was just the guy who finally told the truth about how bad things were.  He had no choice about that. It’s not like people weren’t going to see the lack of sales.

      And that incompetent fool has quite a track record of success. Unlike a anonymous multi-alias prick like yourself.

    • oolong2

      Right….  That was entirely Elop’s fault….

      The company was floundering.  Let the man do his job.  We’ll see what happens next year.

    • Guest

      Um no. At the time Ballmer was pissed that Elop left after only being Office President for about a year.

  • Anonymous

    Wa-wa-wa, all the hard work I put into developing an app for a platform that had no future up from the start is now gone. I have an emotional boo-boo and no will to work.

    Bad, bad Elop. I quit! I am going to work for Google because they will give me donuts, gingerbread, ice-cream sandwich and may be a lolly-pop. I am sure Google folks also go trick-or-treating, unlike evil Microsoft, and get tons of candies.

  • Karl Cramer

    It’s nice to see employee stupidity isn’t just a North American trait.

  • Mr. Furious

    I’m pretty impressed that Elop was open to the question about being a mole.  I could see a CEO quickly dismissing it and moving on rather than give a reasoned explanation.

  • TGR

    Well, WP7 is only the OS.  It is up Nokia to DESIGN phone that are ahead of the curve to appeal to consumers and businesses of the like.  Furthermore, what’s killa Nokia is that they LOST their edge and do not know how to market products to the right people. 

  • Anonymous

    Paranoid delusional by programmers who have no stomach for changing what they do.

    • Anonymous

      wise words

  • guest54

    Nokia was right to partner with MS.  The only question is did it need to be an exclusive partnership to MS, instead of partnering with MS  and Google.  I think MS sweetened the $deal to get the exclusive partnership. 

  • Guest

    I have an idea for Elop…..Nokie partner with M$ and develop a Nokia exclusive customized OS…don’t call it Windows Phone…..give it a new cool name…well M$ may not agree to do that though.

  • Junior

    maybe the employees havent thought of the alternative, being fired and their beloved company bought by some group that broken up. because thats where Nokia was headed before MS came around.

    I suspect good old fashion anti american stuff going on over there. which shouldnt surprise anyone

    • Anonymous

      I suspect it’s anti-Americanism at the root of it. Think of why Nokia is in trouble in the first place – Apple(American company) and then Microsoft rushes to Nokia’s rescue, more humiliation. I guess nationalism is very much alive and well.

  • Anonymous

    Nokia needs to look at MS and see what can they use from MS to sell there phones, like a Nokia Kinnect phone that controls Xbox or Windows7/8.  Or Office centric phone, or a phone geared towards servers or databases…. there are a lot of posibilities.