On the heels of an organizational restructuring last month under new CEO Pekka Lundmark, Nokia’s technology chief and head of Bell Labs Marcus Weldon is stepping down.
Weldon confirmed the decision, which was reported by TelecomTV, on Twitter on Monday saying he “decided it is time to seek pastures new” and hand over the reins.
Yes, it is true. After 25 years, 11 as CTO and almost 8 years as Prez. of @BellLabs I have decided it is time to seek pastures new and hand the reins over with a peaceful transfer of power! #Leavewhenyouareontop https://t.co/1MRPGpEHhx— Marcus Weldon (@MarcusWeldon) November 23, 2020
FierceWireless reached out to Nokia but did not hear back before this story published. According to a statement from Nokia provided to TelecomTV, Weldon will step down at the end of the first quarter of 2021, and help establish the vendor’s new Strategy and Technology team before then.
It’s the latest in an organizational reshuffle, including the exit of Nokia Chief Marketing Officer Barry French, disclosed earlier this month, who will be stepping down at the end of 2020.
Weldon has held the role of corporate CTO for more than a decade, first at Alcatel-Lucent and then continuing to head global technology strategy once it was acquired by Nokia in a multi-billion deal that was meant to enable broad "end-to-end" network leadership, a strategy priority that Nokia plans to shift away from.
Weldon has been of president at Bell Labs, the innovative research arm, since late 2013, and started his career as a postdoctoral researcher at AT&T Bell Labs back in 1995. He became a member of the technical staff and later worked on optical fiber and photonic technology when Bell Labs was part of Lucent Technologies, eventually leading global technology strategy and Bell Labs within Alcatel-Lucent.
In 2019, Weldon told Fierce that with roles as both corporate CTO of Nokia and president of Bell Labs, part of his job was to see the future, speaking to the time it takes to invent new technologies and changes that happen while aligning to get to market at just the right time as specs are set and firm.
With the Alcatel-Lucent deal, former Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri was focused on enabling an end-to-end advantage in 5G. However, the Finnish firm has had a somewhat bumpy ride in 5G over the last couple of years, including issues involving early bets on 5G chipsets that it’s worked to rectify.
In October Lundmark cited Nokia losing share after it was unable to convert its 4G vendor footprint to 5G with a large North American customer. Rumors over the summer surfaced that Nokia could lose out on Verizon business, and the carrier later signed a $6.6 billion network deal with Samsung.
Last month during the first quarterly earnings report with Lundmark at the helm, he announced Nokia would be ditching that very “end-to-end” strategy in favor of a focused approach coinciding with new business groups and leadership.
In that announcement, Nokia laid out Strategy and Technology as one of four “corporate functions”, which include strategic planning, long-term research including Nokia Bell Labs, and IT and digitalization.
At the time, Nokia said the leader for that job would “be named at a later stage” – potentially signaling that Weldon, whose name was fully absent from the announcement, may have been heading for the door.