CEO Satya ‘the silent assassin’ Nadella has removed many of the company’s senior executive team in what can only be seen as an attempt to make a final break from the Steve Ballmer era. Nadella replaced Ballmer 18 months ago.
Canadian Elop is the highest profile executive to be removed. He was a rising star at Microsoft, and touted as a possible replacement Ballmer before moving to head up Nokia in 2010. He returned to Microsoft as part of its acquisition of Nokia’s phone division last year – about the time of Nadella’s succession.
Also removed by Nadella are Mark Penn, a former Clinton pollster who was head of marketing, technical head Eric Rudder, and head of Microsoft Dynamic Kiril Tatarinov. The Dynamics division disappears, subsumed within the company’s cloud software operations.
But it is Elop’s departure that has raised the most eyebrows. It is an indication that Windows Phone has not been going well, and that Nadella us looking for a new direction. After an initial burst, the platform’s market share has stabilised at under 5%, well below the 15% Microsoft said it is targeting.
Elop was widely criticised at Nokia for sticking with the Windows platform and not diversifying into Android. Since returning to Microsoft he has hardly set the world on fire, and at age 52 he will now be able to ‘spend more time with his family’ and ‘pursue other career opportunities’.