Microsoft beware: Stephen Elop is a flight risk

Remember the good old days when a top Silicon Valley executive leaving the Bay Area to join a certain large software company in Redmond, Washington, was not exactly news? More often the past few years the travel has been in the other direction, from Seattle area companies to a certain large search-engine company in Mountain View.

Well, Stephen Elop is making news by giving up his job as chief operating officer job at
Juniper Networks after one year to take over as the top executive of Microsoft’s business software division.

The move will actually cut down Elop’s commute to work. He lives in Canada.

Maybe Microsoft put up a sign on the roof of its headquarters that read “If you worked here, you’d be there already” that Elop might have seen on one of his regular commutes down to the valley.

That’s right, Elop was commuting from Canada to Silicon Valley these past two years, and doing it on his employer’s dime. First at Adobe Systems, which bought his previous employer Macromedia in late 2005. Adobe paid out $145,149 to cover Elop’s commuting from Canada in 2006.

After he had been working at Adobe for about six months, Elop told the company in June 2006 he’d be leaving, setting his departure date as Dec.5, one year to the day since he had been hired. For his year of service, Elop was paid a $500,000 salary and $315,000 bonus. Oh, and got a $1.88 million severance payment, on top of that. And all of his restricted shares vested when he left, despite the original performance strings that had been attached to them.

No, we’re not making this up.

At Juniper, where Elop resigned on Wednesday — also one year to the day from when he started — he was guaranteed $200,000 in additional “relocation reimbursement and benefits” plus “reimbursement of travel costs between his current home and Juniper’s offices in Sunnyvale.” That was in addition to his $540,000 salary.

Not coincidentally, we suspect, Wednesday was also the day the first installment vested of a 300,000 option award given him when he was hired in January 2007. Juniper had a very good 2007, with its stock price rising 75 percent last year. The 75,000 shares of his option grant set to vest Wednesday were priced at $20.23, making them worth $794,250 that day.

He starts at Microsoft at the end of the month. Mark the date. You know Elop will.


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  • johnny fairplay

    Yeah, right on. Really sweet that someone published the truth about how Elop “manages his career”

  • Yea Right

    And he is still there. Looks like you were wrong. Doesn’t surprise me.

  • Timo

    Today is the time for the BIG move. Let’s hope that he makes a good job.

  • yea wrong

    have to give Jack Davis and Johnny Fairplay kudos. Mark the date again – Sept 2010. No chance of him commuting to Canada this time.

  • Anonymous

    Are you a wizard?!

  • Deepesh

    Looks like Elop may elope with a potentially comeback saga of Nokia 🙁

  • NuShrike

    Pretty loyal to MS still even after poisoning Nokia.

  • Alex

    Well, 2+ years at MSFT before destroying NOK is pretty reasonable given his track record. The question is… will he finish 1 year @ NOK before they eject him?

  • hailey56

    what they don’t mention is that that money is used so he can visit his kids