Some Nokia shareholders offer a Plan B, want Nokia CEO outBy Emil Protalinski 15 comments
Some of Nokia's supporters don't like that the Finnish company is switching to Windows Phone as its primary smartphone platform. A small number of them have gone as far as launching a Nokia Plan B Facebook page with the following explanation of their stance, titled "An open letter to Nokia shareholders and institutional investors":
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.
The full letter covers a lot of criticisms in regards to what the corporation is currently planning. Should the nine be elected to majority, they want to seriously change the current management. One of the first things they want done is to see expulsion of Nokia CEO Stephen Elop.
Their most interesting argument is that Nokia should maintain ownership and control of the software layer of its products because software is where innovation, differentiation, and shareholder value can most easily be created. They also want a revamp in hiring strategy, the elimination of outdated and bureaucratic R&D practices, and at all cost avoid becoming "a poorly differentiated OEM."
In case you can't see the whole letter, we've reposted it below:
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* Dramatically increase efficiency by eliminating outdated and bureaucratic R&D practices like geographically distributed software development and outsourcing.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 on 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.