Putting Elop inside Microsoft as a direct report to Ballmer is an interesting move in itself. Since Microsoft is re-tooling itself as a "devices and services" company, it was widely believed that Larson-Green would be one of the lead internal candidates for Ballmer's job as CEO. This made sense from an operational standpoint as well as a professional one, since Larson-Green is regarded as a smart and savvy leader.
That possibility seems very much in doubt now. The wording of the memo from Ballmer seems to indicate that Larson-Green will be reporting to Elop, which would accordingly elevate Elop to the best heir-apparent position within Microsoft for the CEO job.
According to an interview with Ballmer by The Verge, Elop has been up for the Microsoft CEO position as an external candidate. He will continue to be in the running as an internal candidate.
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Given Elop's tenure as former head of Microsoft's Business Division from 2008-2010, he certainly has the background to take on the lead role at Microsoft. But Elop's work to date at Nokia has been less than stellar, even after he chose to enter a strategic partnership with Microsoft in 2011 and sell Windows-based smartphones.
Sure, it makes sense for a company that wants to remodel itself into a devices company to hire someone who's run a devices company already.
But when Elop took over Nokia just shy of three years ago Nokia's global smartphone market share was around 35%. Now, it's around a mere 4%. In 2010, its market cap was over $40 billion. Three years later, Nokia's market cap is $14.6 billion. And since Elop took over, more than 40,000 employees were handed their pink slips in sweeping waves of layoffs.
Is this the kind of management Microsoft really needs?