In the very late '90s, a meeting took place between top Microsoft and Nokia executives at Nokia's sparkling new headquarters in Espoo, Finland. Literally a stone's throw away from Helsinki, Nokia House is a beautiful place with water views on three sides, a mostly unused helipad, and a slightly subsidized lunch menu that had some of the best food in town.
A legend was built up around acrimonious talks between then Nokia CEO Jorma Ollila and Microsoft's Bill Gates. The two companies intended to discuss the future of the mobile computing world. Nokia was the mobile leader at the time. Microsoft was the computing leader. The talks were destiny between giants. (At one point, the two would have a combined market cap approaching one trillion dollars.)
Nokia House would come to be known as "PowerPoint Palace" within certain circles, for the most part an endonym used around the four corners of Nokia's globe. Whether or not this term was a pejorative I never knew. I think that some wore the name with pride, and it did accurately describe the slide-based communications culture of the company. As one Nokia employee once said, slightly in jest: "Stop talkin' and just send me the fuckin' slides."
The apocryphal origins of the term "PowerPoint Palace" are worth a quick blog entry here, given it's an easy-going Friday morning, a breezy end to a historic mobile week. The term is said to have originated from the mouths of Microsoft executives —perhaps even by Bill Gates himself— who were shocked at the number of PowerPoint slides they had to endure as they met with various Nokia unit heads. Yes, even Microsoft people were amazed at Nokia's intoxicating use of PowerPoint. While Nokia House didn't manufacture hardware, it was a factory of sorts.
So the irony makes for weekend thinking: PowerPoint Palace didn't just describe the stream of deliverables coming out of the building, it described the company's fate. This will be fun to follow and I wish both segments of the company all the best.
PowerPoint Palace: a crystal castle on a shining sea.
PIC source: harrypwt via Flickr.