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How a glass coffee table could have sunk the Microsoft / Nokia deal

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Ballmer + Elop (verge stock)
Ballmer + Elop (verge stock)

Microsoft's $7.2 billion aquisition of Nokia's phone business is one for the history books — assuming the deal is approved — but how did this particular piece of history come about? The New York Times and All Things Digital have simultaneously published extremely similar accounts, both of which prominently feature a glass coffee table which left a nasty gash on Steve Ballmer's forehead. (The coffee table soon disappeared.) According to both reports, Microsoft and Nokia approached the bargaining table from very different positions, with Microsoft offerring far less than Nokia thought it was worth and hoping to keep Nokia's maps service as part of the deal.

Neither account disputes the recent Reuters report that Microsoft rushed the deal to a conclusion, but both suggest that the deal wasn't close to firm until July, and that the deal's key negotiators were Steve Ballmer and Nokia chairman Risto Siilasmaa, not former Microsoft executive Stephen Elop. If true, the accounts might go a little way towards convincing conspiracy theorists that Elop didn't sell out Nokia to his former employer. Read the accounts at our source links below.