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Microsoft writes off $7.6 billion from Nokia deal, announces 7,800 job cuts

Microsoft writes off $7.6 billion from Nokia deal, announces 7,800 job cuts

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Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella didn't waste any time dropping the company's previous focus on "devices and services" after he was appointed as chief executive last year. In recent weeks former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop has departed Microsoft, alongside the company's head of phones Jo Harlow. Nadella warned of "tough choices in areas where things are not working," and it appears we're seeing the first major signs of that today. Microsoft is cutting 7,800 jobs primarily in its phone business, and the company is writing off $7.6 billion related to its acquisition of the Nokia phone business. That's more than the $7.2 billion Microsoft paid for Nokia's phone business last year.

A more focused phone portfolio will mean less Lumias

"We are moving from a strategy to grow a standalone phone business to a strategy to grow and create a vibrant Windows ecosystem including our first-party device family," Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella says in an email to employees today. "In the near-term, we’ll run a more effective and focused phone portfolio while retaining capability for long-term reinvention in mobility." The new job cuts follow 18,000 over the past 12 months that Nadella originally announced nearly a year ago. Microsoft completed the majority of those cuts back in April, so these new reductions are part of the company's new financial year.

It's not immediately clear what a "more effective and focused phone portfolio" means for the future of Microsoft's Lumia phones, but with the exit of Elop and Harlow it's clear Microsoft isn't as focused on creating a big spread of Lumia devices anymore. Microsoft is planning two new high-end Lumia devices for its Windows 10 Mobile software later this year, but we're unlikely to see the high number of mid- and low-range devices that Nokia used to produce regularly. Nadella says he's committed to first-party devices like phones, but that the company will focus on three areas: business, value phones, and flagships. It sounds like there will be a lot less Lumia devices produced in the future as a result.

Nadella's full memo can be found below:


Over the past few weeks, I've shared with you our mission, strategy, structure and culture. Today, I want to discuss our plans to focus our talent and investments in areas where we have differentiation and potential for growth, as well as how we'll partner to drive better scale and results. In all we do, we will take a long-term view and build deep technical capability that allows us to innovate in the future.

With that context, I want to update you on decisions impacting our phone business and share more on last week's mapping and display advertising announcements.

We anticipate that these changes, in addition to other headcount alignment changes, will result in the reduction of up to 7,800 positions globally, primarily in our phone business. We expect that the reductions will take place over the next several months.

I don't take changes in plans like these lightly, given that they affect the lives of people who have made an impact at Microsoft. We are deeply committed to helping our team members through these transitions.

Phones. Today, we announced a fundamental restructuring of our phone business. As a result, the company will take an impairment charge of approximately $7.6 billion related to assets associated with the acquisition of the Nokia Devices and Services business in addition to a restructuring charge of approximately $750 million to $850 million.

I am committed to our first-party devices including phones. However, we need to focus our phone efforts in the near term while driving reinvention. We are moving from a strategy to grow a standalone phone business to a strategy to grow and create a vibrant Windows ecosystem that includes our first-party device family.

In the near term, we will run a more effective phone portfolio, with better products and speed to market given the recently formed Windows and Devices Group. We plan to narrow our focus to three customer segments where we can make unique contributions and where we can differentiate through the combination of our hardware and software. We'll bring business customers the best management, security and productivity experiences they need; value phone buyers the communications services they want; and Windows fans the flagship devices they'll love.

In the longer term, Microsoft devices will spark innovation, create new categories and generate opportunity for the Windows ecosystem more broadly. Our reinvention will be centered on creating mobility of experiences across the entire device family including phones.

Mapping. Last week, we announced changes to our mapping business and transferred some of our imagery acquisition operations to Uber. We will continue to source base mapping data and imagery from partners. This allows us to focus our efforts on delivering great map products such as Bing Maps, Maps app for Windows and our Bing Maps for Enterprise APIs.

Advertising. We also announced our decision to sharpen our focus in advertising platform technology and concentrate on search, while we partner with AOL and AppNexus for display. Bing will now power search and search advertising across the AOL portfolio of sites, in addition to the partnerships we already have with Yahoo!, Amazon and Apple. Concentrating on search will help us further accelerate the progress we've been making over the past six years. Last year Bing grew to 20 percent query share in the U.S. while growing our search advertising revenue 28 percent over the past 12 months. We view search technology as core to our efforts spanning, Cortana, Office 365, Windows 10 and Azure services.

I deeply appreciate all of the ideas and hard work of everyone involved in these businesses, and I want to reiterate my commitment to helping each individual impacted.

I know many of you have questions about these changes. I will host an employee Q&A tomorrow to share more, and I hope you can join me.