Nokia PlanB - 奇妙な出来事 -

前回の記事で書いた2月11日のノキアによるマイクロソフトとの提携発表の記者会見の3日後に、 "Nokia PlanB" (http://nokiaplanb.com/)というサイトが立ち上げられた。

"An open letter to Nokia shareholders and institutional investors"というタイトルで、ノキアが来る5月3日に開催する年次株主総会で自分たちが取締役に選ばれ、マジョリティを得たなら以下のような改革をする、という内容でその支持を訴えるものだった。(末尾に全文を掲載)

・Stephen ElopをCEOの役職から解任する
・MeeGoをスマートフォンの主力プラットフォームとする
・Symbianを最短でも5年は維持する
・R&Dのアウトソーシングを止める
など。

私には理にかなった提案に思えて、支持したくなる内容だった。

しかしそのわずか2日後には "Calling it quits"のタイトルで更新があり、次のような理由でプランの実行を断念する、という表明があった。

・個人投資家の支持は得られたが、機関投資家の支持を得られなかった。
・プランを実行できたとしても、その頃にはすでに有能なソフトウェア技術者は大方、ノキアを辞めてしまっているだろう。

それを読んで私は残念に思うとともに、さもありなん、と納得したのが。。

ところが、その数日後にアクセスしてみると、なんと。。
http://twitter.com/NokiaPlanB に転送されて、次のようなメッセージが表示された。

there are no 'nine young investors', just one very bored engineer who really likes his iPhone

だれかのいたずらだったのだ。私は本気にして、完全にだまされてしまった。
見事な"うそ"だと思った。ほとんどの人はだまされたのではないだろうか。
いたずらとわかってみれば、"nine young Nokia shareholders"とか、あやしい感じはする。
( "whois nokiaplanb.com" (<=Linuxのコマンド)を実行してみたら、このドメインは2/14に取得されて、1年間有効になっていた。)

しかし、あまりにもよく考えられたストーリーだ。この張本人が "退屈しているiPhone好きのエンジニア" というのはカモフラージュだろう。
株の値上がりで利益を得る機関投資家に対する批判、ともとれる表現もあり、もしかするとノキアの意思決定のかなり近いところにいる(いた)、ElopやElopの決定に批判的な人物が書いたのではないか、そんな推測もしたくなる。
その意図はどこにあったのだろうか。。

以下、もう既にWebサイトから削除されてしまったメッセージです。(アクセスした時にコピペしておいたもの。)



An open letter to Nokia shareholders and institutional investors
February 14, 2011 – 11:02 am

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  • Dramatically increase efficiency by eliminating outdated and bureaucratic R&D practices like geographically distributed software development and outsourcing.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) NokiaPlanB.com. 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.



Calling it quits
February 16, 2011 – 12:18 am

After reviewing the feedback we’ve received from investors on our Plan B, we have decided not to carry on with it.

In the last 36 hours we were contacted by hundreds of individual shareholders (owning anywhere form 10 to 400,000 Nokia shares) pledging to support us by proxy voting or by personally attending the AGM.

Nevertheless, the responses that we received from institutional investors were not encouraging. These institutions have a fiduciary responsibility to their customers and are legally bared from supporting radical initiatives like seating a bunch of kids on the board of directors. If they do not agree with Nokia’s plans, they are better off simply divesting and putting their money in other companies that better fit their investing strategy (which is exactly what they have been doing).

We also realized that by the time our Plan B would kick in, most remaining software talent in Nokia would have already left the company, so it would be a really uphill battle to pick up things from there.

This is it from us. It’s up to you what to do with your money. We’ll stop short of endorsing NokiaPlanC.com or NokiaPlanX.com even though we think they are both very good ideas.