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Microsoft Pri0

Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times technology reporter Matt Day.

March 5, 2014 at 9:55 AM

Report: Nadella initially against Microsoft acquiring Nokia’s phone business

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.”

Also interesting is this tidbit on Microsoft’s board dynamics:
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.
Since ascending to the CEO position, Nadella has mentioned Ballmer’s “devices and services” vision for the company, indicating that that will continue. But Nadella has, far more often, used his own catchphrase of “mobile first, cloud first” to emphasize where his focus lies.
Nadella became a board member with his CEO appointment last month.
Also adding to the  intrigue will be the addition to the board this month of G. Mason Morfit, president of ValueAct Capital. Activist shareholder ValueAct managed to gain the right to a board seat last year, when it may have played a role in Ballmer’s sooner-than-expected retirement. (Ballmer denies that ValueAct played any role in that decision.)

Comments | More in Microsoft | Topics: board, nokia, satya nadella

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