Stephen Elop is out at Microsoft. This isn't surprising news — his departure seemed all but assured once Satya Nadella replaced Steve Ballmer as CEO — but it does complete the strangest chapter in Nokia's long history. Elop had a long run as a VP at Microsoft before he became CEO of Nokia, where he promptly issued a memo relying heavily on an allegory for suicidal choices to announce a wholesale switch to Microsoft's Windows Phone, struggled in the marketplace, cratered the value of the company, and then sold the whole thing to his old friends at Microsoft at a steep discount.
You might recognize this story as the plot of Independence Day, as told from the alien's perspective.
So now that Elop is free to roam the badlands once again, it's only fair to ask what new company he might infiltrate as part of an elaborate Microsoft M&A strategy. Here's a quick list.
1. HTC. Elop just runs the Nokia playbook again, but this time he insists that HTC's strategy of putting shitty cameras in phones that sell poorly is better than Nokia's strategy of using really good cameras in phones that sell poorly.
2. Twitter. There's definitely a world in which Twitter's CEO roller coaster ends with Elop signing a Bing deal 18 months before selling the whole thing to Microsoft. The final edition of Nick Bilton's Hatching Twitter ends with 20 pages of shruggie emoticons.
3. LG. "The internet of LG things, seamlessly connected by Microsoft's Azure platform into a unified smart solution for every consumer," Elop announces to the crowd at CES 2016. Satya Nadella, beaming from backstage, prepares to hand over a gigantic novelty check.
4. Motorola. Motorola is actually just a part of Lenovo now, so Elop would have to infiltrate Lenovo, convince them to spin Moto off, and then switch Motorola to Windows Phone in an effort to crater the stock price and sell it to Microsoft.
Actually, Elop might be able to get that done before breakfast.
Elop might be able to get that done before breakfast
5. Apple. We live in a world where The Wall Street Journal is seriously suggesting Apple stop making Macs. Elop coming in as CEO and selling the company to Microsoft is arguably less insane.
6. Meizu. Elop promises to accelerate the company's expansion into Western markets, but fails to reveal the final slide of his PowerPoint deck, which is just a Microsoft logo and animated dollar sign gifs.
7. Spotify. A company that loses more money the more money it makes? Elop puts his feet on the desk and waits for a 425 area code to hit the caller ID.
8. Fiat Chrysler. Elop creeps around the office late at night with a thumb drive, secretly swapping out code. No one notices when every Chrysler is suddenly running the abandoned Microsoft-based Ford Sync system; people who work for car companies are genetically incapable of seeing terrible software. Microsoft buys Fiat.
10. The Verge. Suck it, iVerge.
11. Nokia. Elop lands in Espoo, Finland, flying commercial for the first time in years to avoid suspicion. He waits until nightfall and then drives slowly to the edge of a large campus. Large buildings loom just down a long path; the backlit letters of nearby signs providing the only illumination.
"Let's do this," whispers Elop. "Double-Elop."
He begins the long walk toward history.