It seems that everybody is talking about Carly Fiorina's rapid departure from HP. We should all be so lucky as to get the velvet boot from a company with a final paycheck of $21.1 million.
My main interest in the end to Fiorina's tenure is the affect (if any) that this will have on HP's stance towards Linux and open source. How will the new CEO approach HP's Linux offerings? Will Linux flourish or languish at HP when new leadership takes over? One person who is uniquely qualified to speak on open source and HP is Bruce Perens, who used to serve as HP's senior strategist for Linux and open source.
I touched base with Bruce Perens to get his take on Fiorina's departure, and asked what he thought about her tenure as it relates to open source. Perens didn't quite touch on Fiorina's influence on open source, but he had a lot to say about her departure:
First, don't feel sorry for Carly. She's made at least $50 Million from HP, probably more. This is a good time for her to make her exit, whether or not she's had a disagreement with the board.
Itanium, upon which HP has been a partner with Intel, is a disaster. HP transferred its Precision Architecture, the basis of Itanium, to Intel, transferred its silicon designers to Intel, shut down its chip foundries, and all of this was tied into an Itanium partnership that will return nothing to HP. Also, HP must be starting to see some delayed negative effects of the merger - which was always a daring bid with many naysayers. IBM's attempted sale of its PC manufacturing division is an indictment of the HP-Compaq merger strategy. Where HP chose to "fix" a marginally profitable division at great expense, IBM did not see that its forte was competing at the low end.
Over 6 or 7 years we have seen HP in a transition from a high-margin to a low-margin company. Computers are becoming commoditized, and the 70% margins that we used to pay for workstations are gone forever. But now HP does have to compete at that low end, a very difficult business requiring an almost ruthless focus on efficiency that is opposite of the corporate culture with which they went into this change.
There is also the problem that much of the innovation that drove HP left when they spun off Agilent. That was a high-margin, low-volume business that required a lot of innovation. It wasn't very much like HP's main profit-centers, but it created a lot of ideas that transferred to other divisions.
It's too soon to tell what Fiorina's replacement at HP will bring, but it doesn't look like she'll be missed. Ed note: Corrected spelling. Sorry about that.