Hewlett-Packard Chairman Patricia Dunn, who launched an investigation into a media leaks that resulted in a firestorm of controversy, has agreed to resign her post following a meeting of the company's board of directors….The board has appointed CEO and President Mark Hurd to take over for Dunn, who will continue to serve as chairman through the company's Jan. 18, 2007, scheduled meeting, the company announced early Tuesday. After that point, Dunn will remain on the board as a director.
So, Dunn is done as chairwoman but gets to stay as a director? This will certainly embroil HP in more controversy over the days and weeks. Hurd went on to say:
I am taking action to ensure that inappropriate investigative techniques will not be employed again. They have no place in HP.
They have no place anywhere. But, to think that HP is the only place where this has happened is absurd. Where else? As much as I hate regulation and legislation, perhaps we need some sort of law requiring any company that keeps account information about its customers (banks, telcos, etc.) to notify those customers via snail mail any time that account information is accessed. Some organizations follow this practice already when passwords are changed. From other corners, the consolidation of chairman and CEO power into one person (Hurd) is also drawing criticism:
Eric Ross, a financial analyst at ThinkEquity Partners, said that replacing Dunn was a good move for the company, if only because the controversy may be demoralizing and distracting employees...But Hurd's accumulated power, as president, CEO and soon chairman, does raise questions of corporate governance, Ross said...."Making Hurd chairman seems to be a lot of power for one person," he said. "It seems like the world's moving away from that model."
Meanwhile, like Yogi Berra said, the game isn't over until it's over. With just about every agency now having launched their own probes into the matter, there will undoubtedly be more turbulence ahead for HP.