HP: Apotheker out. Whitman in. A Hangover decision?

Summary:It seems all but certain now that HP's board is going to show Apotheker the door and bring in former E-Bay CEO Meg Whitman in as CEO. Now what?

Has HP's board recovered from its hangover?

Has HP's board recovered from its hangover?

HP's board appears to have sobered up. You know how it is. You get drunk, you black out, and you wake up in the morning with Leo Apotheker as your CEO. OMG! Well, it seems HP has sobered up, and now, they're kicking Apotheker out and bringing in former eBay CEO Meg Whitman to be the new boss. Wait. Meg Whitman!? Sure, she grew eBay from nothing to a giant, but HP is larger still and it's an established company, not a start-up. Nor has Whitman ever managed a company that was focused on the enterprise.

You know how sometimes you don't make the smartest decisions when you're suffering from a hangover? I think HP may have just done exactly that.

Don't get me wrong. I thought Apotheker was an awful choice. He announced that he was going to abandon the PC business; killed the wildly popular TouchPad and webOS line after barely letting them out in public; wasted a ton of money buying Autonomy; and tried to transform HP into IBM. Or, as I saw it, he was trying to change it into a second-rate version of his first company, SAP. Yeah, that seemed like a wise move.

How bad were his decisions? Well, besides the market hating his every move, I actually heard old HP people wishing Carly Fiorina was back. You have to know how much the HP rank and file hated her to know how much that means. To quote one former HP employee, "I was there when Platt left and Fiorina was chosen. I was there when after 5 long dark years she was told to leave and we all danced on our desks." So, yeah, HP insiders hated what Apotheker was trying to do.

They're none-to-sure about Whitman though. Drazenko Djuricic, an IT consultant and former HP staffer, observed, "Correct me if I am wrong: But wasn't she the one who had the 'brilliant idea' that eBay should buy Skype? Oh great. Makes me wonder what brilliant ideas she'll come up with once she's in charge of HP"

He added, "Why don't they make Ann Livermore CEO? She'd sure know how to run the company she's been part of for so many years."

Damn good question. I wish I had a good answer.

Whitman may turn out to be as great as a winning eBay auction for that one last GI Joe you needed to complete your collection, but I really don't see anything in her record, other than name-recognition, that makes me think that she has what it takes to turn HP around. Although, for starters, just kicking out Apotheker's executive suite cronies and saying, "You know all that stuff he said about abandoning the PC market and tablets? Forget about it." would be a good start.

Ann Livermore would have been a smarter choice though. She's currently HP's executive VP of enterprises services. Outside of the eternally profitable printer division, her department is probably HP's strongest. She has enormous experience and is as sharp as a tack. Over the years I've met every major IT executive in the business from Microsoft's Bill Gates to Apple's Steve Jobs to IBM's Sam Palmisano. She's as smart as any of them and a far better fit for HP's CEO office.

But, like I said, HP's board seems to be suffering from something and so they're bringing in an outsider with no enterprise experience. Oh well, I'll wish Whitman luck and say this for her, "She's not Apotheker." Oh, and, rehire those webOS developers Apotheker fired, you're going to need them.

Related Stories:

HP reportedly set to name Whitman CEO

Meg Whitman's ledger: Is she up to running HP?

Will ousting Apotheker at HP make any difference?

Leo Apotheker's HP never wanted webOS to succeed

Topics: Operating Systems, Enterprise Software, Hardware, Hewlett-Packard, Legal, Mobile OS, Printers

About

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, aka sjvn, has been writing about technology and the business of technology since CP/M-80 was the cutting edge, PC operating system; 300bps was a fast Internet connection; WordStar was the state of the art word processor; and we liked it.His work has been published in everything from highly technical publications... Full Bio

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