Nokia Chairman Jorma Ollila wanted Anssi Vanjoki to be CEO, picked Stephen Elop after getting threats

Finnish news site Kauppalehti just published something that if true, has huge ramifications for the future of the world’s largest handset maker. They say that Nokia Chairman Jorma Ollila, who put Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo (OPK) in charge as CEO in 2006, began a search for his replacement in the spring of 2010. The search was more of a formality than anything else since he really wanted to put Anssi Vanjoki in charge, one of the few guys at Nokia who actually had a pair of balls. Vanjoki, as far as he was aware, was going to be the CEO of Nokia until 1 week before the Finnish firm announced who the successor to OPK’s disastrous reign would be. When Nokia said it was former Microsoft employee Stephen Elop, Vanjoki resigned almost immediately. He wasn’t even trying to hide the fact that he was leaving because he wasn’t picked.

Kauppalehti goes on to say that Jorma Ollila was threatened by American investors to change his mind or else he would be sacked. That’s rather odd, since Ollila said himself that he would be leaving Nokia’s board in 2012. He said this on September 14th, one day after Anssi Vanjoki said he’d be leaving the company. These accusations of office politics gone awry show the power struggle that was happening at one of Europe’s flagship companies, one that is currently getting attacked by the competition with more ferociousness than they’ve ever seen.

None of this changes my mind about Elop. The boy is smart and Nokia needs an outsider to break them free of the routines they’ve built themselves back in the 90s, but still, you’ve got to wonder, what would Nokia have become if the man who had deep ties with the company, and knew the right personnel who could execute his commands quickly, would have taken control?

[Hat tip to @thebluenile]

  • Anonymous

    Holy shit.

    • Noone

      Anssi, like a bunch of other high ranking Nokians’, had their time in glory. However they failed to see what’s coming but still hung on to their jobs. I’m a former Nokia employee as well and I tell you fresh blood, a complete reshuffle at the top and some drastic strategic changes is the only thing that MAY save Nokia. I’d say sack Savander, Oistamo and Ojanpera, ramp down Symbian in style and seek shelter at M$FT for a couple of quarters

  • Anonymous

    Well, considering how quickly Elop shifted strategy by:
    1) ending the failed Symbian Foundation experiment
    2) consolidating internal and external development resources around the cross platform Qt framework (to include Meego and Symbian UI developments)
    3) smartly killing Symbian^4 and its associated legacy break (which allowed Symbian^3 some sales momentum)
    4) immediately taking redundancies out of the organization

    I’m not convinced AVJ would’ve moved quicker. In fact, he was in a position of influence and certainly had little impact regarding the above four actions…which now seem to have been low hanging fruit. Elop took about a month to make this happen.

    Actually, both OPK and AVJ seemed very content to sit on their resp. laurels. First downplaying Apple’s iPhone, then the other OEM’s and their Android “pee in the pants” strategy. Both mindsets clearly show a healthy lack of paranoia was missing from the top ranks at Nokia…for far too long!

    Yes, AVJ was an asset to NOK for many years. His departure at this critical juncture will also be seen as an asset to NOK…IMHO.

  • I work for Nokia and this story is totally unfounded speculation. There were three candidates for Nokia CEO position in the final selection and Stephen was chosen on merit without any external interference. We are very disappointed to see this ‘news’ being propagated the day before our results are published.

    Mark Squires

    • Anonymous

      It DOESN’T MATTER what the newspaper or website posted what, Stefan from “intomobile” will take ANY Nokia related news and make it his own battlefield ageist Nokia, its his way … shame.

    • Anonymous

      Yeah… it’s the usual suspect, isn’t it?

  • Ray Haddow (Nokia)

    “This story is totally unfounded speculation. There were three candidates for Nokia CEO position in the final selection and Stephen was chosen on merit without any external interference.

  • Anonymous

    To anyone studying business in University, Nokia is performing a full blowtext book FAILURE for running a mulitnational business.
    All the talent in the world cant help them in the next year.

  • Blammo

    Nokia are bleeding money as well as market share. Elop needs to gut Symbian (which has 10,000 people working on it) and lay off around 5000 people. Anssi, for all his qualities, would not have been able to do this for reasons related to Finnish politics. Nokia has become an extension of the Finnish civil service – it is carrying too much dead weight. If this changes, Nokia will succeed.

  • Jimbo

    Even if it’s true, so what? That’s life in the corporate world.

    What doesn’t change, is that Kallasvuo’s tenure as CEO was ruinous for the company. You had a bean-counting attorney trying to lead a high tech firm, that should be all about risk and creativity.

  • Nokia is on a slippery slope downhill now with this ex-Microsoft guy at the helm. Explains why they are going with Windows 7. Disastrous. Now that Apple is reaching its zenith, Nokia will not have much chance. And forget Samsung as they are superb of shooting themselves in the foot. So it is up up and up for the company from which I bought my first computer in 1984 – the Apple II c and I have not looked back since!

  • If American investors didn’t like the way Nokia was being run they can quite simply sell their shares and buy Microsoft ones, looks like their decision to foist Elop on Nokia has finally come back to bite them after Nokia’s shares fell over 10% last week

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