Ballmer Begets Ballmer?

I’m not saying it’s wise, but it was probably inevitable.


The companies said late Monday that Microsoft will pay €3.79 billion to buy “substantially all” of the Nokia business, which includes its smartphone operations. The Redmond, Wash., company will also pay €1.65 billion to license Nokia’s patents, the companies said, bringing the deal to €5.44 billion, or $7.18 billion.

Nokia was already Microsoft’s closest partner in smartphones, with the ailing Finnish company one of the biggest supporters of Microsoft’s phone software.


I wonder if this is similar at all to Apple’s 1996 deal to buy Steve Jobs’ NeXT software company, which was perhaps most valuable for bringing Jobs back into a leadership position at Apple. To spend $400 million to earn record billions might have been the deal of the century.

In this case, Ballmer would be bringing his guy, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop back into Redmond’s fold — to become Ballmer’s replacement?

If that is indeed the case, if this purchase is a stalking horse for Ballmer to replace himself with another Ballmer, then the company is doomed.

The public details of the deal include that Elop will be heading up Microsoft’s important new Devices division, where presumably he’ll be tasked with doing for Microsoft’s device sales what he did for Nokia’s phone sales — and the less said about that, the better.


Ballmer has said that his company’s future depends on becoming more integrated like Apple, on selling more devices. So Elop’s new job could very well put him in position to become the new CEO when Ballmer steps down within the next 12 months.

But I really hope it’s somebody else.


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