Today (April 24 2014) was the last day of Nokia as we knew it. The staff of Nokia’s Silicon Valley office went to the restaurant down the street and had one last celebration together. We had fun and said our goodbyes.
On April 25, that Nokia ceases to exist, and in its place are two companies that officially have nothing to do with each other: Microsoft Mobile Oy (where the heart of the company will go) and Nokia Oyj (where I will be).
Tomorrow I will still be an employee of Nokia. I will go to my office in Sunnyvale. It will be the same building it was yesterday. It will still say NOKIA on its facade basking in the California sun. But half of the people I’ve worked with will be gone. Up through today we shared everything. Tomorrow we will share nothing but our memories.
I am not writing another piece to lay blame for who is responsible for the decline and fall of this iconic company. I am writing to reflect on what Nokia has meant for the world, and for me.
Of course, the sheer success that Nokia had in its mission of “connecting people” makes it impossible for me or any one person to say what Nokia meant for the world. The story of Nokia is the story of over a billion human beings whose lives were touched, and even transformed, by being connected to anyone, anywhere, for the very first time. It is the story of a small Nordic country transformed into a global technology powerhouse, of a plucky company that achieved what the smartest management consultants had warned them was impossible, and of thousands of individual triumphs of dedicated employees who made breakthrough after dazzling breakthrough in engineering, logistics, design and marketing, only to outdo themselves soon thereafter.
For me, working for Nokia was a wondrous, life-changing experience. Nokia saw potential in me and took me in as a refugee from HP’s webOS debacle. They empowered me to try crazy new ideas that turned into wild successes, and gave me the freedom to help others with theirs. Nokia took me to a dozen countries across four continents, and allowed me to rise from a Developer Community Manager to a Product Marketing Manager to a Product Manager in Nokia CTO’s most ambitious and exciting project. Nokia gave me as much as they could, and in turn I gave them everything I had.
What I had the opportunity to accomplish in less than 3 years at Nokia was incredible. But my story is a short one, and one among thousands of Nokians. I hope others share their stories. They should be told. Not many people can say they worked for a company that had such a great impact on so many people. Thanks to Nokia, I am privileged to be among the few. The “happy few”…
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here
Henry V, Act IV, Scene iii
The Nokia that we knew ends today, but its impact on the industry and the world will last for years to come.
And the phones it made will last forever.
Nokia, you gave me my first gray hairs, sleepless nights, and countless moments of frustration and anguish as I watched you die and couldn’t save you—and the best, most exciting, most illuminating years of my life as I tried. Damn you. And thank you.