Ina Fried

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Dissident Nokia Shareholders Give Up on Plan B Effort (Update: It Was a Hoax All Along)

Well, that didn’t last long.

Just yesterday a small group of Nokia shareholders were calling on the company to reverse course, sack CEO Stephen Elop and continue with Symbian and MeeGo rather than make a shift to Microsoft’s Windows Phone operating system.

The group posted a manifesto on the Web and set up Twitter and Facebook accounts in an effort to persuade large shareholders to mount a revolt. However, on Wednesday the group gave up the fight, acknowledging that it lacked any backing from large shareholders and also that Symbian developers would probably have given up on the platform before the strategy could be reversed anyway.

“After reviewing the feedback we’ve received from investors on our Plan B, we have decided not to carry on with it,” the group said on Wednesday.

“In the last 36 hours we were contacted by hundreds of individual shareholders (owning anywhere from 10 to 400,000 Nokia shares) pledging to support us. Nevertheless, the responses that we received from institutional investors were not encouraging.”

It turns out, the group said, that institutional investors are more likely to sell their shares than opt for a radical approach that, the group concedes, amounts to “seating a bunch of kids on the board of directors.”

The group also said that many workers and developers would have already moved on by the time new directors could be elected. “We also realized that by the time our Plan B would kick in, most remaining software talent in Nokia would have already left the company, so it would be really an uphill battle to pick up things from there,” the group said.

We’ll see if the employee groups in Finland fold so easily.

In the meantime, Elop said he expects there to be confusion and upset from employees and investors who have had just days to digest something that it took him months to adjust to.

“There is both an intellectual journey and an emotional journey through which we all need to go,” Elop told Mobilized during a chat Tuesday on the sidelines of the Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona. “I’ve had four and a half months to go through the journey.”

Update: The people behind Plan B now say the whole thing was a hoax all along.

“In case it’s not 100 percent clear by now: #NokiaPlanB is a hoax,” the plan’s posters said in on Twitter. “There are no ‘nine young investors’, just one very bored engineer who really likes his iPhone.”

That said, many on Twitter noted the group seemed to raise sentiments that are felt in some quarters.

“Funny, because I’ve seen serious proposals that were less coherent and professional,” tweeted Jim Gaynor.

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