/// Stephen Elop Is Now Microsoft CEO Candidate to Beat

September 3, 2013  |  All Things Digital


Well, it only cost $7.17 billion, but Microsoft now has a pretty obvious candidate to lead the company as soon as CEO Steve Ballmer vacates the seat he said he would within the year: Nokia CEO Stephen Elop. Actually, with the giant transaction to buy the Finnish phonemaker , Elop isn’t the head of Nokia anymore, but an EVP of devices and services. But it seems clear that the acquisition puts the former president of Microsoft’s business division in the front of the line to take over the software giant, ahead of several internal candidates and a whole lot of external ones. While Elop has critics who say he did not fix Nokia or much of anything, others are likely to point to a pedigree that would also make him the favorite here. This will doubtlessly be much debated over the next weeks and months. So unless co-founder and former CEO Bill Gates decides to bust a move — and he will not — it looks like this race is Elop’s to lose. I met Elop almost five years ago and was struck by the fact that he was the only exec at the company that would then talk about how the software giant had gotten the “open” religion and was becoming “the most interoperable company in the world.” At the time, I wrote: “I am still not sure about Microsoft, but one thing’s for sure: Elop has turned out to be one of the most interoperable of tech execs.” Along with his stint at Microsoft running that powerful franchise, he had been COO of Juniper Networks and CEO of Macromedia, which was acquired under his tenure by Adobe. His jump to the Finland’s telecom giant was a big one, given how far Nokia’s star had fallen in the mobile market, with the fast growth of the Apple iPhone and the Google Android mobile operating system. He started off quickly in early 2011 with a 1,300-word memo harsh but cogent metaphor of a burning oil platform to take a bracing opening shot at turning around Nokia. “We too, are standing on a ‘burning platform,’ and we must decide how we are going to change our behaviour,” he wrote. He’s had a roller-coaster ride since then, of course, including knitting himself to Microsoft in a major partnership and trying to turn Nokia’s fortunes around. It’s been rocky, to say the least, as he has yet to bring the company back to any kind of healthy health. While he did not start the fire, of course, selling to Microsoft is perhaps the move of someone who knew that it was an unwinnable battle without bigger hoses of money, talent and more. Did I mention that Elop also has five kids — including triplets? But why don’t you listen to him instead?

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Stephen Elop Is Now Microsoft CEO Candidate to Beat


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