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Microsoft Misses Key Talent In Nokia Acquisition

Microsoft Misses Key Talent In Nokia Acquisition

As investors scramble to cash in on Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) $7.2 billion acquisition of Nokia's (NYSE: NOK) handset business, Nokia has quietly announced that its top designer is leaving the firm.

According to AllThingsD, Marko Ahtisaari (Nokia's exec VP of design) will step down from his role on November 1.

The official word from Nokia is that Ahtisaari is leaving to pursue entrepreneurial opportunities, but the timing is curious. Many Nokia employees -- including CEO Stephen Elop -- will come to Microsoft as a result of the buyout. Why would Ahtisaari leave at such an exciting time in the company's history?

It could simply be that his retirement was planned long before the merger was in place. While Nokia and Microsoft have been rumored to merge for more than two years, it was not until this year that Microsoft seriously considered a buyout.

Ahtisaari may have also been offered the opportunity to lead a new startup. For some individuals, that job may be far more exciting than a gig with an established corporation.

Related: Nokia's Interim President Timo Ihamuotila On Microsoft's Hand Set Purchase

There is also the possibility that Microsoft wanted to go in a different direction. Ahtisaari's work was revered by Nokia fans and company employees alike, but they didn't break any sales records. Future Lumia and Asha devices will only carry the Microsoft name. The Windows maker may plan to revise the way these smartphones look and feel in hopes of gaining market share from Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) and Google (NASDAQ: GOOG).

Ahtisaari is not the only top executive planning to leave in the midst of the merger. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer will retire sometime in 2014.

By acquiring Nokia's handset business, Microsoft believes that it can triple its market share by 2018. That goal might seem a bit lofty, especially with Apple and Samsung (OTC: SSNLF) commanding so much of the market. But a lot can happen in five years -- BlackBerry (NASDAQ: BBRY) execs know this better than anyone.

Disclosure: At the time of this writing, Louis Bedigian had no position in the equities mentioned in this report.

Louis Bedigian is the Senior Tech Analyst and Features Writer of Benzinga. You can reach him at 248-636-1322 or louis(at)benzingapro(dot)com. Follow him @LouisBedigianBZ

Posted-In: Apple Blackberry Google Marko Ahtisaari MicrosoftNews Management Tech Best of Benzinga


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