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Life Beyond Microsoft: Juha Christensen and Tod Nielsen Turn Up in the Linux Camp

Both Join the Board of Trolltech Software; Company Readying Itself for an IPO

In a coup for Linux, Palo Alto, CA-based Trolltech Software – the world's biggest producer of Linux software for mobile devices – just hired two execs very closely associated with Linux's nemesis, Microsoft, according to a Reuters report. Trolltech is readying itself for an IPO.


Tod Nielsen (right) with SOA / Web Services Journal editor Sean Rhody during a visit to SYS-CON offices.

The two execs concerned, who will be joining the Trolltech board as non-executive directors, are Tod Nielsen and Juha Christensen (pictured center with SYS-CON Media group publisher Jeremy Geelan and Anup Murarka, while both Murarka and Christensen were on the Macromedia Mobile and Devices team) and Tod Nielsen.


Juha Christensen (center) with SYS-CON group publisher Jeremy Geelan and Anup Murarka at SYS-CON headquarters. At the time of this photo both Murarka and Christensen were on the Macromedia Mobile and Devices team.

While at Microsoft, Christensen brought to market the Pocket PC, Pocket PC Phone Edition, and Smartphone, in addition to Mobile Information Server and Server ActiveSync. He was also responsible for Microsoft's participation in several worldwide wireless standards bodies and developed the strategy for company-wide mobility solutions and scenarios.

Tod Nielsen, currently senior vice president of technology marketing at Oracle Corporation,  also once held senior management positions at Microsoft, in roles such as vice president, Platform Group and vice president, Developer Relations.

Before joining Microsoft, Christensen co-founded Symbian Ltd., a joint venture between Nokia, Ericsson, Sony-Ericsson, Matsushita, Samsung, Siemens, and Psion, whose cross-vendor operating system is emerging as an industry standard. Previously Juha worked at Psion Plc., bringing out some of the first PDAs in the industry. Presently Danish-born Christensen is CEO of Sonopia, a start-up currently operating in 'stealth mode' and focused on enabling micro-segmentation in the mobile industry.
 
"Juha and Tod bring a wealth of expertise to Trolltech's board that is directly related to our core markets," said Eirik Chambe-Eng, Trolltech president. "Juha's broad perspective on the mobile industry will help guide our Qtopia embedded business, and Tod's ability to engage the developer community is an invaluable resource. We are extremely pleased to have executives of their caliber on the board as we meet new opportunities for development software in the exploding embedded Linux industry and the cross-platform software market."

Their joint defection to Trolltech, makers of the Qt application development framework used by KDE and the Qtopia application development platform for embedded Linux devices, is certain to cause a stir. Adoption of Windows Mobile OS software is slow going compared to the surge of Linux in both the embeded space and in terms of carrier-grade Linux.

When the head honcho of your mobile devices division jumps ship, first for Macromedia and then for a Linux company, it's time to start wondering whether he knows something about Microsoft's mobile expertise that he's not telling. And voting with his feet!

More Stories By Jeremy Geelan

Jeremy Geelan is Chairman & CEO of the 21st Century Internet Group, Inc. and an Executive Academy Member of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. Formerly he was President & COO at Cloud Expo, Inc. and Conference Chair of the worldwide Cloud Expo series. He appears regularly at conferences and trade shows, speaking to technology audiences across six continents. You can follow him on twitter: @jg21.

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Most Recent Comments
Anonymous 10/12/05 02:17:50 AM EDT

As someone who used to work at BEA (I left shortly after Nielsen joined), I realized that hiring him (or acquiring CrossGain) was a poor move businesswise.

Neilsen and his collagues successfully took a company that was doing rather well into a Microsoft-wannabe and with his help, caused a mass exodus of extremely talented people all in the name of "ease of use."

While "ease of use" may be a great thing to strive for, BEA was neither ready, willing or able to deliver on this promise and now it is paying the price.

While the stock seems to be slowly edging up again, BEA is at a crossroads and chances are it won't survive another blow -- in fact, the fact that Ellison even wants them is kind of funny because he already has at least one app server available to him -- so it may be more a case of a billionaire thumping his chest and attempting to humiliate Chuang more than anything.

BEA is yesterday's news anyways - I place bets on jBoss and other open source environments nowadays... They had their chance to shine and they blew it... I am unclear if Trolltech will be a good place for Nielsen, but one thing's for sure, it can't be much worse than BEA was.

hasaclue 09/07/05 08:20:39 AM EDT

there is a huge difference between "joining the board as a non-executive director" and "jumping ship" to join TrollTech. what do you think NON-EXECUTIVE means?