Business

Microsoft, Nokia and the great Stephen Elop conspiracy

Above: Steve Ballmer and Nokia's Stephen Elop at the Windows Phone 8 launch

Image Credit: Devindra Hardawar/VentureBeat
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Earlier this month, when Microsoft plunked down $7.2 billion for Nokia’s hardware business, a VentureBeat reader sent us over this post, which talks about the vaguely credible conspiracy theory surrounding Microsoft, Nokia, and Stephen Elop.

Here’s a sample:

A high ranking VP of a corporate giant becomes the new CEO of a company in a different business, in a different country. He doesn’t sell his home in Seattle, nor does his family move with him, even though he’s ostensibly going to be there permanently. Over the next three years, he makes counterintuitive decisions that abandon his new company’s core strengths, and their value plummets to a tiny fraction of what it was.

You get the idea. Essentially, the theory here — and this has been floating around for a while — is that Stephen Elop became the CEO of Nokia to soften the company up for the Microsoft takeover left Nokia without its hardware business.

While its a fun theory, it’s the sort of thing that’s nearly impossible to prove.  In response to the notion, I cited the ever-relevant adage of Hanlon’s Razor: “Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.”

In other words, it seemed far more likely that Elop wasn’t consciously sabotaging Nokia — he was just really bad at his job.

Still, in spite of what can only be described as his abject failure, Elop is not only the current frontrunner to replace outgoing Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, but he’s also getting a handsome payout once Microsoft’s deal with Nokia is finalized.

As noted in a Nokia proxy filing, Elop will collect a pay package valued at roughly $25.4 million when things are all settled. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the vast majority of that cash will come from Microsoft, which is picking up 70 percent of the bill. Nokia itself will be responsible for the remaining 30 percent.

I mention both the Nokia conspiracy and Elop’s payout not to give too much credence to the former, but rather to illustrate just how nonsensical the entire series of events has been so far.

Often, even the most zany of conspiracy theories contain some grain of truth.


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