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Key Events At Nokia Under Stephen Elop’s Leadership: A Timeline

nokia-elopEarlier today, Microsoft announced that it plans to acquire all of Nokia’s Devices & Services business, license Nokia’s patents, and license and use Nokia’s mapping services, paying EUR 3.79 billion for Nokia’s Devices & Services business and EUR 1.65 Billion to license Nokia’s patents, for a total transaction price of EUR 5.44 billion in cash.

This wasn’t much of a surprise since many anticipated it when Nokia’s board hired Stephen Elop, an ex-Microsoft Employee, as the company’s Chief Executive Officer. Now that he’s stepped down from the position and will be leading an expanded Devices team at Microsoft, here’s a timeline of key events at Nokia since it hired Elop:

– September 2010: Nokia fired its then CEO, Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo only to replace him with Microsoft senior executive Stephen Elop. Elop was the head of Microsoft Business division and was responsible for its Office suite, applications for enterprise customers, and its unified communications arm.

– February 8, 2011: Elop sent out a memo to Nokia employees which is now popularly know as Burning platform memo. In the memo, Elop stated that Nokia was standing on a burning platform and faced stiff competition from Google’s Android and Apple’s iPhone. He also highlighted that while Nokia had some innovations within the country it wasn’t able to bring them to the market fast enough. Read the Burning Platform memo here.

– February 11, 2011: The Burning Platform memo was a just precursor to Nokia’s eventual shift towards Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform and dropping support for its own Symbian smartphone operating system. On February 11, 2011, in an open letter, Elop and Microsoft CEO Steve Balmer announced plans for a strategic partnership to build a ‘new global mobile ecosystem’, of partnering to offer customers what is “a third ecosystem”, in a market that is dominated by Apple and Android. Following the announcement, Google’s Vic Gundotra sent out a tongue in cheek tweet stating ” #feb11 Two turkeys do not make an Eagle”.

– August 2011: Nokia announced that Tero Ojanperä, Executive Vice President and a member of the Nokia Leadership Team, resigned from the Nokia Leadership Team at the end of his contract on September 30, 2011.

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– September 2011: Nokia handed over all Symbian-related developments to Accenture. Under the agreement, approximately 2,800 Nokia employees located in China, Finland, India, United Kingdom and the United States, were transferred to Accenture at closing.

– October 2011: Nokia finally launches its first two Windows Phone based handsets — high end Lumia 800 and a mid range Lumia 710. The exact details of the performance of these handsets is not known, however, by September 2012, Nokia was able to ship only 7 million Lumia handsets in 54 countries. In January 2012, Nokia introduced its third Lumia handset Nokia Lumia 900.

– February 2012: Nokia introduced its last Symbian handset 808 PureView with a 41 megapixel sensor. The same technology later appears of other Nokia Lumia devices.

– July 2013: Nokia acquired Siemens’ 50% stake in their joint venture Nokia Siemens Networks for €1.7 billion ($2.23 billion) and the transaction is expected to close in Q3 2013. Nokia will be paying Siemens €1.2 billion ($1.57 billion) in cash at the closing of the transaction and the remaining €500 million ($656.8 million) in form of secured loan due one year from closing. Following this transaction, Nokia Siemens Networks will become a fully owned subsidiary of Nokia. Many attribute this towards Nokia’s step to sell itself.

Acquisitions and divestment: During his tenure, Elop did not acquire a lot of companies possibly due to the fact that the company was already burning a lot of cash and had limited to spend. In November 2012, Nokia acquired Earthmine, a 3D street-level imaging specialist. In June 2012, Nokia announced its plans to acquire imaging specialists as well as all technologies and intellectual property from Scalado AB. In the same month, Nokia announced that it plans to divest its shares in luxury brand Vertu to EQT VI. In order to reduce the cash burn rate, in December 2012 Nokia announced that it will sell and lease back its head office building in Espoo, Finland on a long-term lease to Finland-based Exilion for EUR 170 million.

Nokia Smartphone performance during Elop regime

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While Nokia sells a lot of featurephone/low end handsets, it’s the smartphone business that matters and earns them cash. Since Elop took over, the Smartphone business hasn’t been performing very well. Nokia which at one time sold close to 28 million smartphone handsets not long ago in December 2010, it managed to sell only 7.4 million Lumia handsets in Q2 2013. That said, Nokia’s low end handset business and its Asha platform hasn’t been performing well.

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