Newly appointed Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, along with Bill Gates, were among those initially opposed to former CEO Steve Ballmer’s proposal to acquire Nokia’s handset business, according to a Bloomberg Businessweek report today looking behind the scenes at what led to the eventual $7.2 billion acquisition.
Ballmer, who was then facing concerns from the board about the company’s direction and his leadership, pushed for the acquisition. According to the report:
Several directors and co-founder and then-Chairman Bill Gates — Ballmer’s longtime friend and advocate — initially balked at the move into making smartphones, according to people familiar with the situation. So, at first, did Nadella, signaling his position in a straw poll to gauge executives’ reaction to the deal. Nadella later changed his mind.
“Nokia brings mobile-first depth across hardware, software, design, global supply chain expertise and deep understanding and connections across the mobile market,” Nadella said yesterday in an e-mailed statement. “This is the right move for Microsoft.”
For more than a decade, directors gave Ballmer what he wanted. Then two outsiders who joined the board in the first half of 2012 — Thompson, a former Symantec Corp. CEO, and Steve Luczo, CEO of Seagate Technology Plc — teamed with others to challenge him.