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What are you doing, HP Board?

September 22, 2011

First: Carly Fiorina:  Gone in January 2005.  Then, for a brief period, you brought in Robert Wayman as interim CEO.  Then you fired Patricia Dunn from her role as the Chairman in September 2006.  For a while you had a good guy: Mark Hurd, who ensured that HP was number 1 in desktops and laptops from 2006 onward, and grew HP’s share of the printer market to close to 50% of the market.  And then, anyway, you fired him about a year ago over the Jodie Fisher sexual harassment scandal, and for “expense account irregularities”.   You prompted Larry Ellison to actually write “the HP Board just made the worst personnel decision since the idiots on the Apple Board fired Steve Jobs many years ago. That decision nearly destroyed Apple and would have if Steve hadn’t come back and saved them. HP had a long list of failed CEOs until they hired Mark who has spent the last five years doing a brilliant job reviving HP to its former greatness”.

And then, you totally lose control.

You bring in Leo Apotheker, the ex-CEO of … SAP?  A business software company to manage a primarily devices business?  What happened to the Fifth Sutra … “I will not confuse expertise with certificates”?  Any wonder that the market reacted so sharply to the move … dropping HP stock by almost 50% since September 2010?

In February 2011, you announce that you are going to take on the iPad in the consumer space with the Palm TouchPad running WebOS.  And you also add that you will ship WebOS (which you acquired for about $1.2Billion just about a year and a half ago) on your new PCs.  And then, in August … just five months later, you kill the TouchPad, announcing a fire sale for what you have left in stock.   And you totally sideline WebOS.  What happened to the second Sutra : “I will maintain neutral buoyancy?”

In August 2011, you announce that you are going to spin off your PC business and buy enterprise software company Autonomy.  Huh?  Never mind the years of effort you spent spent — including a controversial merger with Compaq — to become the world’s largest PC maker. Never mind that the PC business feeds H-P’s more profitable businesses. Sure … you do have extensive expertise in the services and consulting businesses, which means that buying an enterprise software company might actually be a good move … but to announce that you were going to spin off your PC business without having a buyer in place?  What happened to following the first sutra: “I will never dive without a check”?

And now … you prompt the media to write that you might fire Leo Apotheker, and replace him with Meg Whitman, ex-CEO of eBay? Do you need to be reminded of the Fifth Sutra again?  What are you up to?


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