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Nokia’s Stephen Elop Wasn’t First Choice as CEO

by Todd Haselton | October 19, 2013October 19, 2013 8:00 am PDT

Stephen Elop

In 2010 when Nokia appointed Stephen Elop, at the time an executive from Microsoft, it turned a lot of heads. Nokia, a Finnish phone maker, had appointed an executive from an American company (though he was born in Canada) to take the spot of outgoing CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo. The appointment became the foundation of a new relationship between Nokia and Microsoft, which is is finalizing its deal to acquire Nokia and used the phone maker to push its Windows Phone operating system.

As it turns out, however, Elop wasn’t the first choice as the new CEO.

According to The Wall Street Journal, which recently talked to the chairman of Nokia at the time, and another former CEO of the company, Jorma Ollila, Elop was actually the second choice. Nokia had originally hoped to appoint someone else who wasn’t named before that person decided to bow out of discussions for reasons unknown. All we know about the first candidate was that he was aged in his 50s at the time and was the “No 2. man at a well-known American technology company,” according to remarks made by Ollila.

We wonder how much differently Nokia would have operated had that other candidate been tapped instead of Elop. Would Nokia have had such a tight relationship with Microsoft? Would it still have considered a sale? Things certainly could have turned out differently, according to Ollila. “We were not successful in using Microsoft’s operating system to create competitive products, or an alternative to the two dominant companies in the field,” he told Finnish news outlet Helsingin Sanomat.

Ollila’s new book, which was recently published in Finland, reveals more into the appointment of Elop as CEO of Nokia. The book’s title, translated to English, is “An Impossible Success.” For now, though, Ollila tells Helsinging Sanomat that he believes Nokia will make a comeback.


Todd Haselton

Todd Haselton has been writing professionally since 2006 during his undergraduate days at Lehigh University. He started out as an intern with...

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