For the most part of my career I worked on the business side of things building up alliances and partnerships with globally leading brands. I was on the mobile phones side of things and collaborated very closely with my OVI friends.
After a long and very tedious work we had reached an understanding of how we could include the Windows live services on both the Symbian and Series40 based devices. As always finding the technical solutions moved forward like a beautiful dance. The engineers, working only on the functionality and details on getting the functionalities to work as planned progressed very well. All seemed out to be a huge success, at least from a technical point of view.
As we all know its not only about technology. There is also the business side of things. That’s were issues often get very challenging as both parties around the table were approaching the discussions with a clear target: I want all the benefits and don’t want to give up anything! That was usually the starting point when dealing with brands such as Microsoft, Google, Facebook etc. So, for months we shuttled back and forth between London, Seattle and Espoo. As we made some progress and approached something we saw as an understanding on business terms we brought in lawyers into the discussion and pretty soon we had a pile of agreed questions that we had to re-open and find a new answer to. One step forward, one step back.
Eventually, in time for Nokiaworld in Amsterdam, we reached an understanding on how we would proceed. All the documents, specs and plans were agreed and in place. We were ready to execute both on the Nokia side as well on the Microsoft / Windows Live side. During the negotiations we came up with this cunning idea that it would be most beneficial for the partnership that we would have an alignment meeting with the brass from both Nokia as well as Microsoft. Said and done, we organized everything and booked a really nice meeting room at the conference. At the time Anssi Vanjoki was the godfather and business owner for anything and all that we were doing with the Windows Live group inside of Microsoft. I have the deepest respect for Anssi. He had the vision, the backbone to make a stance and the charisma to deliver in a very believable message.
In the afternoon of the first day in Amsterdam it was then time for the meeting to take place and contracts to be signed. Smiling faces entered the room, business cards was exchanged and we sat down. Given that Nokia and Microsoft were reasonably big brands at the time and we were finally about to start collaborating, there was a lot of expectations for this meeting. The negotiation team of course had their seats at the far end of the table and the big boys at the other end. Anssi as the host for the event also opened the meeting:
The problem when dealing with big brands is that you cannot really innovate anything.
That opening statement just removed the floor underneath me and I felt like I was falling deeper deeper deeper down in a dark cold hole. Somehow, I’m not really sure how he did it he managed to talk himself out of that statement. Soon enough the agreements were signed and the celebrations could start, which did not end until the morning.
As soon as we got back home the implementation of the Windows live services preloaded on our devices commenced and we shipped the solution in hundreds of millions of devices around the world.