CEO of Nokia's maps business Here leaves to pursue other 'entrepreneurial interests'

Michael Halbherr is stepping down after just a few months in the job.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Michael Halbherr, CEO of Nokia's mapping unit Here, has stepped down from the role after just a few months at the helm.

Nokia push to make Here maps and locations services indispensable in cars and all things connected has hit a bump with Halbherr's resignation.

Halbherr joined Nokia after it acquired Berlin-based mapping software firm gate5 back in 2006— a time when Nokia was touting its own Nokia 770 internet tablet as the perfect GPS navigation hardware. A year later, the Finnish company spent $7.2bn to buy mapping company Navteq in the hope of adding context to internet services through location and mapping.

After years of running it as an independent unit, in 2011 then CEO Stephen Elop decided the unit should be merged it into Nokia's new location and commerce business. Halbherr was appointed lead for the new unit and took up a spot on the Nokia leadership team. The following year, amid the launch of Nokia's first Windows Phone Lumia devices, it launched the Here brand.

Though Halbherr has led Nokia's mapping business for several years, he was only officially appointed CEO of Here this April, following the completion of Microsoft's acquisition of Nokia's handset business for €5.4bn. Around the same time, Rajeev Suri was promoted from head of Nokia's networks business to the company's CEO.

Here remained with Nokia as one of its three main businesses, along with Nokia networks, and its IP business, now known as Technologies. In recent times, Nokia has made numerous acquisitions to bring more smarts to Here, including Earthmine, Desti and Medio.

Here revenues have benefited from Nokia's licensing deal with Microsoft, tied to the sale of its devices unit. Last quarter, the deal helped counter lower sales to sat-nav providers and a drop in sales from its old handset business.

According to Nokia, Halbherr will step down as both CEO of Here and a member of Nokia's leadership team on September 1. Halbherr will be replaced with an acting head, Cliff Fox, currently senior vice president of core map group at Here. Nokia said it will be starting an immediate search inside and outside the organisation for a permanent leader of Here.

Halbherr hasn't said exactly what his next plans are but they will involve the pursuit of "entrepreneurial activities" outside of Nokia.

"It has been a pleasure and honor to work with remarkable and smart people during my time at Nokia and Here. I am proud that we have been able to create a leading location cloud company widely recognized across industries, by customers and by opinion leaders. Now the time is right for me to focus once again on entrepreneurial activities. I wish the team the best of success for the future," he said.

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