As Nokia started to snuggle up to Microsoft, the dark satanic rumour mill claimed that the Nokia CEO Stephen Elop was a Trojan Horse who had been planted in the phone company to subvert it to the way of the Vole.
The theory was that Elop, who used to work at Microsoft, would slowly turn the outfit into a Microsoft subsidiary which would later be bought out by Steve Ballmer. The theory gained some traction when Elop dumped Nokia’s Symbian business and moved to become a Windows only shop. At the time, Windows was nowhere on the telephone world stage.
Now that Elop is back working at Vole and Nokia is part of the glorious Volish empire, people are starting to ask “was he really a plant” and part of Steve Ballmer’s cunning, but evil, plan to take over the company.
ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley wrote that former Nokia CEO and current Microsoft exec Stephen Elop was quizzed about this during a question-and-answer session.
He was asked if he was a “Trojan Horse” at Nokia whose job was solely to bring the company’s value down enough for Microsoft to buy it on the cheap. Elop defended his decisions.
“We could not see a way that Symbian could be brought to a competitive level with, for example, the iPhone that had shipped three years earlier!” Elop wrote in defending his decision to unceremoniously axe Symbian, which at one time had been the world’s leading mobile operating system.
“As for the Trojan horse thing, I have only ever worked on behalf of and for the benefit of Nokia shareholders while at Nokia. Additionally, all fundamental business and strategy decisions were made with the support and approval of the Nokia board of directors, of which I was a member.”
Some shareholders at Nokia’s general meeting last November openly bashed Elop while describing his tenure at the company as a “triple-A flop” that put Nokia on “the road to ruin” and led to “the funeral of Nokia phones.”
However to be fair to Elop, the company was tanking. We can remember writing stories working out how long Nokia could last before its cash ran out. Elop was in damage limitation mode most of the time. Leaving Symbian was a no brainer and if he had gone to Android he would have been competing against nearly everyone. He would also have to pay royalties to Microsoft to use the IP installed in Android. Elop’s first move to save Nokia was collecting $1 billion from Microsoft to run its operating system which was clever – sadly it was not enough.