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

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?

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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

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15 comments
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  • RE: HP: Apotheker out. Whitman in. A Hangover decision?

    Non-plussed. That's all I got.
    DannyO_0x98
  • CEOs should be nurtured from inside

    Apple teaches us that the best way to have a long-term strategy is by growing the "next" CEO from within the company. It doesn't always work, but when it does, the level of thrust and long-term vision remain intact and you don't risk, like HP to go back and forth between conflicting decision from different CEOs.
    feranick@...
  • So who's next?

    I'm thinking Carol Bartz or Jerry Yang might want to start polishing their resumes. Or maybe Robert Scoble.
    neilwd
  • Wildly Popular

    He he he. Kind of wildly popular like the iToy, right? Especially *before* they slashed the price to an unsustainable $99, right?
    WebSiteManager
  • RE: HP: Apotheker out. Whitman in. A Hangover decision?

    While Livermore may be more competent there's one problem: she's not on the Board. There seems to be a rather large disconnect between the Board and the good of the company recently.
    rbartlejr@...
  • RE: HP: Apotheker out. Whitman in. A Hangover decision?

    Yes, I agree, Livermore should be have the right choice.
    Ram U
  • "Wildly Popular Touchpad"???

    Typical media. You beat up on the Touchpad product when it was released, and now you're dancing on the grave of the guy who recognised it as a product too little, too late...

    Just to put the record straight, the Touchpad became "Widly Popular" only when it sold for $99. At $499 it stayed firmly fixed to shelves at the back of the store.
    skiwi
  • RE: HP: Apotheker out. Whitman in. A Hangover decision?

    Ummmmm...
    In what universe were the TouchPad, and webOS "wildly popular"?
    Sure, they had _potential_ to be so..,
    but the TouchPad needed better hardware!
    DavidOverdose
    • RE: HP: Apotheker out. Whitman in. A Hangover decision?

      @DavidOverdose

      Actually the TouchPad performs very well once all the overkill logging is disabled, not sure what HP was thinking with that.
      powellwi
  • RE: HP: Apotheker out. Whitman in. A Hangover decision?

    We'll see if Ms. Whitman can do it. She has to be better than Leo. HP has a quality problem plus a support problem. If you call and get a real American to answer the call that'll be a real start to the turn around. If you continue to get an Indian with an Americanized name of "George" you'll know not much has changed.
    wwgorman
    • RE: HP: Apotheker out. Whitman in. A Hangover decision?

      @wwgorman

      The Whitman decision proves more than anything that the board of directors at hp do not know what they are doing and, have been at the core of strategic fecklessness of this once great company. Whitman brings ego not vision to the CEO role and will fare no better than the (very similar) Fiorina did. This should have been clear from their earlier attempts to become California's governor. That the board could not raise a new CEO from Silicon Valley's vast ranks indicates they are not putting in the hours needed to do a good job and should all be turned out of their positions in time to perform a reset on the leadership issue. Seeing as the investment community has nothing useful to recommend, perhaps employee outrage will do the trick. Do you hear something? The last remaining good executives are heading for the door.
      dan.chandler@...
  • RE: HP: Apotheker out. Whitman in. A Hangover decision?

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

    3 CEO's in a year?!! Spinning off the PC business & firing all of the WebOS/Mobile division workers?? Seems like a good plan! With Windows 8, HP will clearly be a contender! NOT! lol
    SBMobile
  • RE: HP: Apotheker out. Whitman in. A Hangover decision?

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