Last weekend the story broke about Jolla. In that nightmare of bad news that has been the Nokia saga this past 15 months or so, one profit warning after another, mass layoffs and market share collapse, something beautiful is arising from the ashes.
Nokia had set up a very considerate way to deal with departing (mostly fired) Nokia employees. Nokia tried to help them secure their next job. In some case vast numbers of them went to another employer directly, to continue the same work, such as the Symbian developers in the thousands that were moved to work for Accenture. Another novel way was for Nokia to encourage small teams, up to 4 Nokia departing staff, to set up new start-ups in this digital space. They did not get a Nokia ownership stake, but rather just a guaranteed loan. Not big, but 25,000 Euros per person so get four pals together, you have 100,000 Euros to help start up your new venture. And one of those ventures that started already late last year, is Jolla.
Jolla means 'dinghy' ie small boat, in Finnish (and a particularly delightful meaning in Finland is that one of the most, perhaps the most known usages of 'jolla' is in relation to 'optimisti jolla' a one-person tiny sailboat on which many of us learn to sail. The Optimist dinghly. The optimist sailboat. isn't that a wonderful meaning considering the vast oceans of opportunity in digital.) Haha, especially considering some were convinced to jump off a 'burning' platform into the freezing seas. These Nokia execs were the true optimists, they were given lemons, they made lemonade. They set up a little boat to pick up some of the people plunging from the vast Nokia platforms into the deadly seas, and rescued them...
Jolla is 50 employees strong already, and the staff all come from Nokia's smartphones space, almost all around the MeeGo and its predeceessor Maemo OS, ie these are working on Linux based open source based smartphones - not unlike Android (but distinctly different) and similar to the upcoming Samsung Tizen. MeeGo itself is owned by Nokia and Intel, and its not quite certain what the exact platforms will be that Jolla will launch on, they talk of a new branch of the Linux OS tree called Mer (in some langauges, 'sea' - how appropriate). I am not yet familiar exactly how Mer relates to Jolla and to MeeGo.
UPDATE - only moments after I posted this, the third person to post a comment was David Greaves (thanks David!) with this link with more info about Mer.
Also there also was some rather vague buzz in the Finnish media that Nokia may have transferred some patents or perhaps the licensing of some patents to some startups, perhaps also to Jolla, I do not yet know. Now that I checked the IT Viikko story, they have updated it to indicate that they were mistaken initially to report some patents to have been transferred. So lets take this as having been a wild rumor..
Nonetheless, Jolla will take the Nokia knowhow that produced the astonishing N9 and its sister the N950 and its predecssor N900 - and build on this knowhow to produce something new in the smartphones/digital gadgets space. I was not quite sure if they meant something in the phablets space or what, but roughly speaking, if you liked the N9, perhaps wanted one, or wanted to see what would Nokia do next - this Jolla team is effectively the next edition, the Version 2.0 for the N9 and N950 project. And remember, the N9 had such mild reviews as being called the 'Godphone' to the iPhone being the Jesusphone. And winning the 'design Oscars' ie the D&AD Awards ahead of such weak contenders as .. the iPad 2.
The knowhow here is incredible.The MeeGo platform itself is not necessarily big, but might easily have parallels and synergies with Android and Tizen. This is one company you want to keep your eyes on. The leadership is Dr Antti Saarnio as Chairman, Jussi Hurmola as CEO, Sami Pienimaki as VP Sales, Stefano Mosconi CIO and Marc Dillon as COO. The company is headquartered in Tampere very near the small town of Nokia where Nokia pulp, paper and rubber company originally came from and where today's Nokia got its name. So this is also very much truly at the 'roots' of Nokia and the staff make very clear they are very friendly with Nokia, this is not a hostile young start-up of departed execs intending to destroy its larger older rival haha..
The story of Jolla is now spreading very broadly like Forbes covering them already. One of best stories so far with more detailed info is at Finnish tech mag IT Viikko (in Finnish). I asked my Twitter followers if any Finnish blogger could translate the highlights, and my friend Chris Peake ie @creip at his blog Peak Mobility did that for you (thanks Chris!)
If you are media/press looking for exciting positive stories in the Nokia carnage, then Jolla has every chance to be a new tech start-up story from Finland, and could soon become as bright as say Rovio (Angry Birds) is today or Sulake (Habbo Hotel) was earlier in the [ast decade. Please report on Jolla and follow their career.
If you are an investor looking for Tomi's particular insights into what is below the radar and can become mightly big soon, like say my stories here of Flirtomatic or Layar or BookIt or Qustodian in the past, here is another very strong early stage startup in mobile, someone whose pedigree is platinum and whose management team is titanium. This is one handset maker, smartphone maker, who seems like a very promising investment. Please consider them and contact them if you have an interest in joining their growth adventure.
Jolla is so fresh, they don't even have a website yet. You can follow their tweets as @jollamobile and they have a Linked In page as Jolla. I hereby openly pledge my support for the full team of Jolla, this is a beautiful flower growing from the bigger economic distress that happened at Nokia. Now grab the oars, start rowing. Raise the little sail, Lets have Jolla lead us onto the new digital sea of Mer and bring us magnificent smartphones soon. Tsemppia Jollalaiset! I am with you!