Stephen Elop's Getting $25 Million for Destroying Nokia

A blog about business and economics.
Sept. 22 2013 6:03 PM

Stephen Elop's Getting $25 Million for Destroying Nokia

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Nokia's new CEO Timo Ihamuotila, Nokia's Chairman of the Board Risto Siilasmaa and former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop are seen during the press conference of the Finnish mobile manufacturer Nokia in Espoo on September 3, 2013.

Photo by MARKKU ULANDER/AFP/Getty Images

To put the blame for Nokia's problems all on the shoulders of Stephen Elop would be absurd, but he came to the company from Microsoft, bet the company's future on the Windows Phone operating system, and it was a huge disaster. Now with the one-time market leader no longer viable as an independent company it's being bought by Microsoft and Elop will find himself earning about $25 million in bonuses as part of Nokia contractual arrangements for a change in corporate control.

That's nuts. Again, I think it would be absurd to act as if Nokia's failure during Elop's tenure is all Elop's fault. You could have put anyone in charge and you'd probably have gotten a similar result. But that's the point. You don't pay $25 million for the same result anyone could have delivered. You pay $25 million for extraordinary performance. It's enough to make a guy cynical. Meanwhile, as Nokia is absorbed into Microsoft there'll no doubt be plenty more job losses and ample knock-on negative impacts for the economy of Finland as a whole. But Elop seems to be well-positioned to succeed Steve Ballmer as CEO. It's a pretty neat trick.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.