Nokia shareholders plan a coup against the coup

Not all is well in Redmondpoo as some people are not happy with the suddenly cozy partnership Nokia has made with Microsoft. Nine young and anonymous Nokia shareholders who are also former employees are planing on ousting Stephen Elop and bringing the torch back to Espoo instead of Redmond. The group has published an open letter which they dub “Nokia Plan B” on their website that not only voices their disagreement with the recent leadership changes but also identifies key problems and offers solutions as to what needs to be done to revitalize Nokia. This manifesto isn’t child’s play; it raises some very valid points and offers very concrete solutions, such as killing off R&D outsourcing, bringing in young and talented engineers, scaling back Windows Phone 7 Nokia devices to just the North American market alone while focusing on MeeGo as Nokia’s primary platform, and ousting current leaders including CEO Stephen Elop. But can just nine shareholders lead a successful takeover? According to a recent tweet of theirs, they’ve already begun to capture the interest of other shareholders as well. Stay tuned as the group plans to openly challenge the company on May 3 when Nokia holds its Annual General Meeting. Full repost of their call to arms after the break.

We are a group of nine young Nokia shareholders. All of us have worked with Nokia in different capacities in the past. We plan to challenge the company’s strategy and partnership with Microsoft in the next Annual General Meeting scheduled for May 3, 2011.

If you elect us to a majority in the Nokia Board of Directors we will pursue the following agenda:

  • Return  the company to a strategy that seeks high growth and high profit margins through innovation and overwhelmingly superior products with unrivaled user experience.
  • Maintain ownership and control of the software layer of the Nokia products. Software is where innovation, differentiation and shareholder value can most easily be created.
  • Revamp hiring strategy to target the top young software talent from around the world. Only if Nokia is able to attract and keep the best talent in the industry it will be able to generate the level of innovation that is needed to achieve sustained growth and consistently high profit margins.
  • Dramatically increase efficiency by eliminating outdated and bureaucratic R&D practices like geographically distributed software development and outsourcing.
  • Avoid at all cost becoming a poorly differentiated OEM with only low margin, commodity products that is unable to attract top software talent and cannot create shareholder value though innovation.

If you elect us to a majority in the Nokia Board of Directors we will take the following concrete actions:

  • Immediate discharge of Stephen Elop from his duties as President and CEO of the company. Appointment of a new CEO with an international mobile industry background. The new CEO will be committed to carry on the rest of the actions listed below.
  • Restructure alliance with Microsoft as a tactical exercise focused primarily at the North American market. Release one or two Windows Phone devices under a Nokia sub-brand. Only if carrier acceptance, sales volumes and profit margins are satisfactory, consider releasing more WP devices and make them available in Europe. Windows Phone will not be the primary development platform for Nokia. The Nokia phones with Windows Phone operating system will simply take advantage of the existing developer tools and application ecosystem already put in place by Microsoft.
  • MeeGo will be Nokia’s primary smartphone platform. This is where the bulk of the innovation will happen. If MeeGo does not bring great devices to market at an accelerated pace, this strategy will not work. MeeGo smartphones and tablet devices will offer overwhelmingly superior experiences and applications than iOS and Android based competitor products. To reduce time to market, all MeeGo R&D will be done in-house and in a single geographical location. If necessary, suspend cooperation with Intel and concentrate resources on innovation and releasing new Nokia MeeGo devices to market faster.
  • Increase the lifespan of Symbian to a minimum of 5 years. Reap the profits of the existing market share and consumer preference that Symbian already enjoys in Europe and Asia.  Increasingly use Symbian to target mid-tier and feature phone segments. Up-sell existing Symbian users to MeeGo. Focus Symbian efforts in specific countries in Europe, Asia and Latin America where Nokia and Symbian enjoy a high level of consumer goodwill and can be sold at healthy margins.
  • Developer strategy based on Qt with primary focus on MeeGo, but providing a credible developer story for Symbian. Enable developers to make money by targeting the huge Symbian installed based while simultaneously offering their best user experience on the MeeGo platform. All this with a common developer ecosystem that allows writing and releasing software for both Meego and Symbian with minimal interoperability work.
  • End of distributed R&D. Transition to an R&D setup where 90% of all Nokia R&D takes place in only two geographical locations. One of them will be in Finland and the other will be defined later. There will be no more R&D projects with resources in multiple cities and different time zones. Only small tactical software projects will be allowed to take place outside two main R&D locations.
  • End of R&D outsourcing. Bring all core software and hardware development in-house. Immediate end to outsourcing structures where there are multiple layers of Nokia project managers and subcontractor project managers between product managers and the software developers (in some cases up to 90% of the team is management overhead). This action implies substantial personnel layoffs in Finland and other R&D locations worldwide as well as hiring of key external talent and possibly tactical company acquisitions.
  • Leadership team shakeup. Immediate discharge of Tero Ojänpera, Niklas Savander and Mary McDowell from all their duties with the company. Other members of the Nokia Leadership Team may be discharged pending individual reviews with the Board of Directors. Discharged members of the Nokia Leadership team to be replaced with internal and external talent.
  • Aggressively recruit young software talent from top universities. Nokia Recruiting to actively visit top universities worldwide to screen and and invite top students for interviews in Nokia R&D locations. Establish a credible and rewarding technical career progression path in Nokia (to avoid the best talent leaving the company or becoming management overhead). Offer internationally competitive salaries to new talent (if necessary, significantly above local market salaries). Establish Nokia as a company where the best and the brightest want to work.
  • Specific further actions related to the S40 platform, the Ovi services and the company’s marketing activities will be determined at a later stage.

We will update this website with more specific information about this Plan B and about ourselves in the near future. We will also provide specific instructions on how you can support us and make sure this Plan B is approved during the next Nokia Annual General Meeting.

For now, if you are a Nokia shareholder or institutional investor and support this plan, please get in touch with us at investors (at) You can also help us by publicly expressing your support for this plan in your website, blog, twitter feed, Facebook page or by issuing a press release.

If you are a Nokia user, Nokia employee, Nokia fan, or if you develop applications for Nokia phones and want to support this proposal, please click on the ‘Facebook Like’ and ‘Tweet’ buttons on this website. We’d also love if you could post links to this Plan B from your blog or website.

6 thoughts on “Nokia shareholders plan a coup against the coup”

  1. The site is down, so I can't see it, but I must say offering two major OS platforms on the same/similar hardware doesn't make much sense. They couldn't handle Symbian to save their company, but they're going to tackle two OS'?

  2. I've updated the post with copy of their manifesto for your reading pleasure. I'm not sure if they're gonna offer MeeGo to the States, but odds are they are going to take the HTC route and offer multiple OSes on similar hardware. I doubt they will bring WP7 outside North America until the rest of the world is ready for an internet-centric smartphone.

  3. Okay,
    This plan sounds good, but it ultimately seems to put the company on hold for 6months or more. How is that economically feasible? While they're persuing MeeGo, moving personnel to fewer geographical locations, hiring new people, they won't have very much production.

    "The Nokia phones with Windows Phone operating system will simply take advantage of the existing developer tools and application ecosystem already put in place by Microsoft."
    This is a step to put Nokia back on the map for good phones right away. This is what current management wants. They want to build a new ecosystem? Sure, for international use. It's still a lot of time, hardware, backbone and money they're going to have to shove into such a thing. Microsoft already proved it's hard to shove another ecosystem into the market, and they probably had enough spare servers sitting around to throw on the project.

  4. I think you're absolutely right on both parts. But I think Plan B is betting on Nokia's global dominance outside the smartphone market. Although Nokia's smartphone market share crashed in Q4 2010 (,1871,s=1713&iid=284557,00.asp ) it's mobile market share actually went up 2 points to 39% AND turned a profit ( ). While everyone else is rushing to take on the iPhone, Nokia knows that the world outside North America can't even afford an iPhone, let alone a plan to support it (in India for instance, which is the fastest growing mobile market, you have to birth at least two sons and sell them both off in order to afford an iPhone). So it's banking on dumbphones and featurephones. It'll make money. Maybe not as much as it would with WP7 under its belt, but it will.

    On the one hand I think WP7 needs Nokia and Nokia needs WP7. On the other, I think Nokia's current focus on the world is the right path because they're milking it and milking it hard. It's interesting to see how this will play out.

  5. I agree. The world market doesn't need super smart phones, and thus doesn't really use them. That's why Symbian is such a success there. What will happen when they get a taste of a smooth system like WP7 or iOS?

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