Meg Whitman has been installed as chief executive and president of HP, following the sacking of Leo Apotheker.
HP chief executive Leo Apotheker (left) has been replaced by Meg Whitman.Photo credit: HP/ZDNet.com
In a statement, HP said on Thursday that Whitman's appointment, as
well as that of Ray Lane as executive chairman, followed "the decision
that Léo Apotheker step down as president and chief executive officer
and resign as a director of the company".
Apotheker had been chief
executive since 1 November, 2010. During his tenure of just over 10
months, HP's share price fell 44 percent amid a raft of strategy
changes. Apotheker's previous role, as chief executive of German
software giant SAP, had lasted
almost two years before that company decided not to renew his
"I am honoured and excited to lead HP," Whitman said in the
statement. "I believe HP matters — it matters to Silicon Valley,
California, the country and the world."
"We are fortunate to have someone of Meg Whitman's calibre and
experience step up to lead HP," Lane added. "We are at a critical
moment, and we need renewed leadership to successfully implement our
strategy and take advantage of the market opportunities ahead."
Lane described former eBay chief executive Whitman as "a technology visionary with a proven
track record of execution" and "a strong communicator who is
customer focused with deep leadership capabilities". He also pointed
out that Whitman has been an HP board member for eight months, giving
her "a solid understanding" of what the company does.
The nature of HP's products and markets is shifting, largely due to
Apotheker's drive to have the company morph into an enterprise
services firm, rather than a hardware maker.
I believe HP matters — it matters to Silicon Valley, California, the country and the world.– Meg Whitman, new HP CEO
This strategy was exemplified by the three
announcements in August: that HP would stop producing
hardware based on the infant WebOS
platform; that it would consider spinning off or selling its
world-leading PC business; and that it would pay
£7.1bn for the UK data analysis software firm Autonomy.
The market greeted these new strategic directions with scepticism.
Analysts were also left confused when HP said it would roll out a
final batch of the WebOS-based Touchpad tablet, to meet the demand
caused by its end-of-line discounting.
"We very much appreciate Léo's efforts and his service to HP since
his appointment last year," Lane said on Thursday. "The board believes
that the job of the HP CEO now requires additional attributes to
successfully execute on the company's strategy. Meg Whitman has the
right operational and communication skills and leadership abilities to
deliver improved execution and financial performance."
Whitman is best known for her role as chief executive of eBay from
to 2008. During that decade, she oversaw the e-commerce company's
growth into a web giant. However, she was also responsible for less
successful decisions, such as eBay's disastrous $2.6bn (£1.4bn at the time) purchase of Skype.
After retiring from eBay, Whitman moved into politics for a brief
spell. She stood as the Republican
candidate for governor of California in 2010, spending
$144m of her own money on a campaign that ended with the victory
of Democratic opponent Jerry Brown.
Whitman's campaign was not helped by a scandal over her housekeeper
and nanny, who turned
out to be an illegal worker. She lost her election
at the same time as former HP chief Carly Fiorina, a Republican
candidate for Californian senator, was losing hers.
The first thing Whitman did on taking the reins at HP was to send
out an email asking employees for suggestions about what to do
next. HP's share price fell five percent on Thursday.
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