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How Nokia’s former CEO landed at a Seattle startup, rejoining Microsoft vet who led Nokia integration

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Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia’s smartphone enterprise didn’t end up like both firm had hoped, however 5 years later, a few of the connections cast via the $7 billion deal are coming again round in shocking methods.

The businesses themselves made headlines this week by announcing a new partnership, however the separate, lesser-known reunion includes two of the important thing gamers from the acquisition: Stephen Elop, the former Nokia CEO and two-time Microsoft govt; and Tom Gibbons, the longtime Microsoft govt who was tasked with overseeing the integration of the acquisition.

Elop and Gibbons at the moment are working collectively at APiJET, a Seattle-based aviation information analytics startup shaped as a three way partnership of Aviation Companions and iJet Applied sciences. Elop was named CEO of APiJET in September, and the 2 former Microsoft execs are bullish on the startup’s prospects for utilizing advances in machine studying and synthetic intelligence to remodel aviation.

“Take a typical airliner. It’s full of sensors,” Elop defined in an interview with GeekWire. “It’s producing enormous quantities of knowledge each second. The overwhelming majority of that information is digital exhaust. It goes nowhere. … Many of the information is misplaced when the facility is turned off at the tip of the day. And so what I see is an business — simply considered one of many industries — that has a lot alternative to derive worth from this second of digital transformation.”

APiJET debuted its Smart Aircraft system last year with IcelandAir as its first buyer. Different prospects embrace Alaska Airways, which is utilizing APiJET’s know-how to roll out NASA’s Traffic Aware Strategic Aircrew Requests know-how.

However how on the planet did Gibbons and Elop reunite? Because it seems, that is simply the most recent connection between them.

They first labored collectively a decade in the past at Microsoft, when Elop led the Workplace group as president of the Microsoft Enterprise Division, in his first stint at the corporate. Gibbons, a veteran of Microsoft’s Xbox, Mac and {hardware} groups, was a chief within the firm’s cell phone enterprise at the time, overseeing its work with machine makers. Then, 5 years in the past, they labored collectively extra carefully when Gibbons was tapped to steer the integration of Nokia’s cell phone enterprise into Microsoft following the completion of the $7 billion acquisition.

However additionally they have one other connection: each Gibbons and Elop are pilots, and they’d typically see one another as a part of Seattle’s tight-knit aviation group.

They each left Microsoft individually in 2015, and reconnected once more when Gibbons, a trustee at Seattle’s Museum of Flight, gave Elop a tour of the museum. That led to Elop turning into a museum trustee, as properly. As well as, when Elop discovered that Gibbons was engaged on a new mission for business legend Joe Clark at Aviation Partners, the pioneer in fuel-saving blended winglet know-how, Elop was intrigued sufficient to ask Gibbons to fulfill up so he might be taught extra.

Gibbons was beforehand APiJET’s interim CEO whereas additionally working at Aviation Companions on new ventures, and was discovering himself unfold too skinny. So when Elop requested how he might assist, Gibbons stated he jumped at the prospect at hand the controls to his former colleague.

“If Kawhi Leonard presents to hitch your crew, you don’t say no,” Gibbons stated, likening Elop’s arrival to the NBA MVP becoming a member of former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s L.A. Clippers this season in a blockbuster commerce. With Elop on board, Gibbons shifted to a place as chief working officer of APIJET, along with his Aviation Companions function.

Many longtime Nokia followers and staff nonetheless affiliate Elop with the long-lasting firm’s decline, and the last word fall of its smartphone enterprise. So we requested him, what classes did he be taught from Nokia that he brings to this new enterprise?

First, Elop stated he thought-about Microsoft’s Nokia integration work pretty much as good as he’s ever seen in his profession, “when it comes to insights, decision-making, treating folks respectfully,” and bringing groups collectively beneath unified management.

“Lots of actually good work was finished,” Elop stated, calling it “very disappointing to the folks concerned” when Microsoft’s board determined to again out of the smartphone {hardware} enterprise and take a $7.6 billion writedown on the Nokia smartphone acquisition after Ballmer’s departure, reducing hundreds of jobs within the course of.

That call was a part of an effort by CEO Satya Nadella to refocus the corporate on its core strengths, an strategy that has contributed to Microsoft’s resurgence.

As for classes discovered, Elop stated the Nokia expertise taught him that “one can by no means be complacent.” He defined, “Chances are you’ll be the chief within the business, however you’ve obtained to be listening, you’ve obtained to be forward of it, and also you’ve obtained to be continuously disrupting yourselves, lest another person disrupt you.”

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