HP after Hurd: May the CEO guessing game begin

Summary:The abrupt resignation of HP CEO Mark Hurd will spark a lot of speculation about his successor. Who will run HP next?

The abrupt resignation of HP CEO Mark Hurd will spark a lot of speculation about his successor. Who will run HP next?

As analyzed earlier, Hurd stepped down over a sexual harassment claim. A few key facts:

  • Hurd resigned.
  • A committee is being formed to find a replacement.
  • CFO Cathie Lesjak will be interim CEO, but doesn't want the job permanently.
  • Both internal and external candidates will be considered.
  • HP executives and board members said the company won't miss a beat and upped its outlook for the next quarter and fiscal year.
  • Hurd will get a $12.2 million separation package and the right to exercise vested and restricted stock units.

Now the guessing game begins. Who will be HP's next CEO? Board member Marc Andreessen, who sold Loudcloud to HP, will be the center of HP's CEO search. He didn't have a lot to say, but did add that HP was looking for a CEO with "strong leadership and strong operating skills."

Also: HP CEO Mark Hurd resigns amid sexual harassment claim

The big question is figuring out who fits that bill. HP can be expected to cast a wide net. Remember HP plucked Hurd out of NCR, where he was known for strong operating skills, but wasn't nearly as flashy as Carly Fiorina before him. Here's a first crack at figuring out who would replace Hurd.

Internal candidates:

  • Ann Livermore (right), executive VP of HP's enterprise business. Livermore oversees a business with $54 billion in annual revenue. Her turf includes storage, servers, software and services. That's footprint is big enough to run the entire company. If Livermore wants the job, she would be a strong candidate.
  • Todd Bradley, who runs HP's personal systems group. Bradley runs HP's $42 billion PC and device business. Bradley's big task in the year ahead will be making the Palm acquisition work. Bradley has been CEO before at Palm and has run global operations for Gateway. He has the experience.
  • Vyomesh (VJ) Joshi, who runs HP's printing business. Joshi has a large unit, but it's hard to see him running HP's other units. The rest of the internal field falls into that category for the most part. On the press call, HP was asked about whether Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein would get a crack at the CEO position. Rubinstein as HP CEO is a bit hard to see.
  • Andreessen, who sits on HP's board. Andreessen is certainly a visionary and gets the converged infrastructure concept. What he did with Loudcloud---along with partner Ben Horowitz---was impressive. Andreessen would be a long shot, but you never know.

External candidates:

  • IBM executives in the running to replace CEO Sam Palmisano if he steps down in 2011. It's no secret that HP's biggest rival is IBM. Why not pluck a top executive from Big Blue? Here are a few possibilities, but there are several executives at IBM that may be a fit:

Rodney Adkins, who runs IBM's systems and technology group. Ginny Rometty (right), who runs IBM's global sales operation.

Michael Daniels, senior vice president of IBM's technology and business services operation.

  • Pat Gelsinger (right), president and chief operating officer at EMC. Gelsinger, a long-time Intel executive, has the experience to make a jump to HP. it's unclear whether he's want to leave EMC though.
  • Cisco executives. Cisco has a deep management bench and could bring some innovative thinking to HP. Here's Cisco's bench.
  • Someone outside of technology. Given HP was arguing that the company is fine. It's unclear that HP would go for a big bang CEO that's new to the industry. But if it did someone like Ford Motor's Alan Mulally, who has worked a few miracles at the automaker, would make a big splash.

Topics: Data Management, Banking, CXO, Enterprise Software, Hardware, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, IT Employment, Software, Storage

About

Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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