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Could Stephen Elop Be the Next CEO of Microsoft?

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 15 comments

As Elop returns to Microsoft after a three-year stint at Nokia, this is the question folks are asking.

Stephen Elop knows Microsoft and he knows Steve Ballmer. Aside from teaming up with the Microsoft CEO for this video elaborating on the Microsoft/Nokia Windows Phone partnership, Elop used to work at Microsoft. For two years, from 2008 to 2010, he ran Microsoft's Business Division and was responsible for Microsoft Office. Elop then took the role of CEO at Nokia in September of 2010 and, a few short months later, threw his support behind Windows Phone, making it Nokia's primary smartphone OS.

On Monday, Microsoft announced plans to acquire Nokia for a whopping $7 billion. The deal will see Elop step down as CEO of Nokia and move to Microsoft as 'Executive Vice President of Devices & Services' for Nokia. However, with the tech industry buzzing with news of the acquisition, the question everyone seems to be asking is if Elop will end up as CEO of Microsoft.

Steve Ballmer plans to step down within the year, but not before he helps Microsoft find a new CEO. Suddenly, Elop is emerging as a contender for the role. Before Elop took the reins in Espoo, Nokia was struggling in the smartphone space thanks to a stubborn commitment to see its own smartphone software succeed. Elop's 'burning platform' memo showed he wasn't comfortable with the status quo and pushed for change. Whether or not Elop's version of change has been good for Nokia is up for debate. He certainly gave the company's smartphone division some direction, but the call to go exclusively Windows Phone has been heavily criticized. Nokia is selling handsets (and indeed sells the most Windows Phone handsets out of anyone), but the company's share price continues on a path of steady decline.

Whether or not Elop ends up as CEO remains to be seen, but we do know that the possibility wasn't a factor for Microsoft in deciding to purchase Nokia. Speaking to the Verge, CEO Steve Ballmer said the deal was in place before he announced his retirement. So, Microsoft didn't buy Nokia for Elop. That wasn't even a small part of the deal. Regardless, Elop could still end up in the big chair. Then the question will be if he's better or worse than Ballmer.

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  • -1 Hide
    stevejnb , September 3, 2013 7:02 AM
    I'd rather see some young blood in there. While I think Nokia makes great phones, the direction they have taken for the past three years hasn't been a market cracker - they've been producing solid, not very flashy devices with great cameras while the other major companies are releasing devices that throw around a bunch of flashy gimmicks that 95% of the userbase never uses and making thinner phones which are less durable and have les battery life, but they seem a lot cooler. This "produce a solid product and it will" sell mentality makes for a good product, but they're trying to sell a steak without the sizzle - the masses don't take notice.

    However much it isn't what I'm looking for when buying a smartphone - and I DO want to emphasize to Nokia/MS that an accessible file system IS one of those things - they've got to make their devices flashy and cool if people are going to flock to them in the phone market. Nokia phones for the past three years have been very solid devices that would work wonderfully for a lot of people but they haven't had that cool/flashy image of the Apple and Samsung devices.
  • -2 Hide
    cemerian , September 3, 2013 7:12 AM
    if he will become the ceo of microsoft there will be many lawsuits to prove he didnt plunge NOKIA into chaos and misfortune, so microsoft could buy it for a lower price, and then become microsoft ceo, since hes been with Nokia its stocks dropped from around 10 usd to around 4 usd
  • 6 Hide
    CaedenV , September 3, 2013 7:33 AM
    Elop would be a HUGE improvement for Microsoft from a PR perspective. Balmer is good at what he does, but he comes off as being a beer drinking, football loving, trailer park American whenever he is seen in public. Elop is the opposite. He is a quiet class act who spent the last 3 years taking a failing company and turning it to at least a neutral ground on the path to profitability in an industry which is dominated by the likes of Samsung, Apple, and a growing number of Chinese vendors. That has been no small task at all.

    But, the best thing that I like about Elop is that he has an understanding on pricing for the market. Microsoft products are typically not bad, but they are priced allong the lines of Apple products while not being Apple products. Elop understood that if the Lumia line was to take off then it needed quality products that have low overhead so that they could undercut the market. So we get Samsung priced devices that feel like they have a much better build quality, and have grown a reputation of being indestructible. I would like to see this philosophy come to Microsoft above all else. Xbox should be priced the same as the PS4 and focus on making their money on accessories and software sales. Surface RT should be practically given away to get a hardware base in place which is forced to purchase apps in the app store. Surface Pro devices can be a little more expensive, but they should not be consistently $1-200 above their competition. I think that if MS really wants to transition to a device and service company then they really need to focus on hitting these price targets rather than looking at it from a profit per sale perspective like they are use to. But this is something that the MS board will not stand for, so I am not sure that Elop will be able to fix this particular issue even if he is placed in the CEO seat.
  • 1 Hide
    lpedraja2002 , September 3, 2013 7:55 AM
    Lenovo's CEO has some business mojo in him. In my fantasy CEO league, he would be running Microsoft.
  • 0 Hide
    jhansonxi , September 3, 2013 8:04 AM
    Vote here: http://nextmicrosoftceo.com
    Gabe Newell is in the lead.
  • 0 Hide
    computerguy72 , September 3, 2013 8:18 AM
    The next microsoft ceo voting site should really think about removing the ridiculous candidates. I guess it's entirely intended to be a joke site.
  • 1 Hide
    de5_Roy , September 3, 2013 8:26 AM
    elop is seen as a candidate because the outgoing ceo is ballmer. he wouldn't be chosen if the predecessor was someone competent. :p 

    when elop went to nokia i thought ballmer would be nokiasoft's ceo. too bad ballmer got kicked out first.
  • 2 Hide
    JMcEntegart , September 3, 2013 9:14 AM
    Quote:
    if he will become the ceo of microsoft there will be many lawsuits to prove he didnt plunge NOKIA into chaos and misfortune, so microsoft could buy it for a lower price, and then become microsoft ceo, since hes been with Nokia its stocks dropped from around 10 usd to around 4 usd


    I see where you're coming from, but something like that is hard to prove. If that is what happened, I find it hard to believe he (and Microsoft!) would be so stupid as to leave evidence behind. Without evidence, it's just a case of another CEO missing the mark. Happens all the time. It would be AWESOME drama, though. I love tech drama.
  • 2 Hide
    Pinhedd , September 3, 2013 9:51 AM
    Quote:
    if he will become the ceo of microsoft there will be many lawsuits to prove he didnt plunge NOKIA into chaos and misfortune, so microsoft could buy it for a lower price, and then become microsoft ceo, since hes been with Nokia its stocks dropped from around 10 usd to around 4 usd


    Nokia was in chaos and misfortune before he was brought on board. In fact, he was brought on board in large part to stop the chaos and misfortune. It is clear that he hasn't been able to reverse Nokia's fortunes, but he may also be responsible for keeping the company out of bankruptcy.
  • -1 Hide
    belardo , September 3, 2013 2:06 PM
    Both are scummy lying no-talent old farts. Would rather have Justin Beaver be the CEO of Microsoft, he'd do a better job.
  • -2 Hide
    Bolts Romano , September 3, 2013 3:14 PM
    buy over Nokia? why should MS buy Nokia from strategical point of view?
    1. Nokia already lost its present in Network Infrastructure (Many telcos use to use Nokia equipment to support the network , but for the last decade the trends no longer w Nokia)
    2. Nokia lost its ground on lower cost phone to China, people jokingly China already produced new handset while the executive in Nokia still in discussion what phone should they produce
    3. Does Nokia still have the good people inside? That is a big questions since Nokia already stop all Nokia core OS development and move to WP8 which basically tell Nokia employee to build phone only.

    The only beneficial part for MS to buy over Nokia is for the intellectual property which sorry to say no longer at the edge of technology so what ip will MS have?
    Google bough over Moto, where is Moto now? Google still engage asus or Lg to build Nexus and not Moto

    Another billion dollar write off for MS? maybe if the new CEO has no idea what to do with phone maker (shows the new MS CEO put more focus on MS as software company) or a new CEO as energetic as Steve Job which will propel MS into another company like Apple at the cost of losing the Enterprise solution.

    Remember CEO is human he can not be good on both segment markets, Enterprise customers where MS very strong at with the Backend Solution and great support from developer or Mass Market oriented customers like what Apple and Samsung
  • -2 Hide
    Bolts Romano , September 3, 2013 3:31 PM
    buy over Nokia? why should MS buy Nokia from strategical point of view?
    1. Nokia already lost its present in Network Infrastructure (Many telcos use to use Nokia equipment to support the network , but for the last decade the trends no longer w Nokia)
    2. Nokia lost its ground on lower cost phone to China, people jokingly China already produced new handset while the executive in Nokia still in discussion what phone should they produce
    3. Does Nokia still have the good people inside? That is a big questions since Nokia already stop all Nokia core OS development and move to WP8 which basically tell Nokia employee to build phone only.

    The only beneficial part for MS to buy over Nokia is for the intellectual property which sorry to say no longer at the edge of technology so what ip will MS have?
    Google bough over Moto, where is Moto now? Google still engage asus or Lg to build Nexus and not Moto

    Another billion dollar write off for MS? maybe if the new CEO has no idea what to do with phone maker (shows the new MS CEO put more focus on MS as software company) or a new CEO as energetic as Steve Job which will propel MS into another company like Apple at the cost of losing the Enterprise solution.

    Remember CEO is human he can not be good on both segment markets, Enterprise customers where MS very strong at with the Backend Solution and great support from developer or Mass Market oriented customers like what Apple and Samsung
  • 0 Hide
    lpedraja2002 , September 3, 2013 10:08 PM
    Quote:
    Vote here: http://nextmicrosoftceo.com
    Gabe Newell is in the lead.


    Haha this is hilarious, I suggested Lenovo's CEO but will vote for Linus Torvald lolol.
  • 0 Hide
    bebangs , September 3, 2013 10:42 PM
    RIP Nokia...
  • 2 Hide
    fixxxer113 , September 4, 2013 12:01 AM
    Quote:
    Both are scummy lying no-talent old farts. Would rather have Justin Beaver be the CEO of Microsoft, he'd do a better job.


    Quick! Someone make a sitcom out of this :)