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New HP CEO backs Apotheker's strategy

Posted: 27 Sep 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:PC business? smartphone? Meg Whitman? Ray Lane?

Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) has announced that Meg Whitman is its new CEO. Ray Lane, named executive chair of the HP board, supported both Whitman's appointment and the HP board that has faced various criticisms.

Both Whitman and Lane said they stand by Apotheker's plan to spin out the PC business, to discontinue the WebOS tablet and smartphone business, and to acquire server software Autonomy for about $11.7 billion.

Whitman said the HP board is mulling over the PC division and will decide before the end of the year. The Autonomy deal should also close by year's end, she added. "In the end, the only thing to rebuild confidence in this company is to deliver results and that is what I intend to do."

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Lane said the board removed Apotheker for a lack of teamwork, a series of poor quarterly financial results and poor communications of strategic goals. He also defended the board against charges by Wall Street analysts that it acted hastily given Apotheker's tenure of less than a year.

Lane declined to give a timeline for the board's action, but described it in broad terms. "It wasn't last week, it wasn't a month ago. You don't deliver a quarter and don't deliver another quarter and then make some announcements [August 18] that are communicated poorly. How long do you go along with that?"

In addition to CEO candidates from last year's search that landed Apotheker, "there were several [internal] names we considered, but some were not ready," noted Lane. "I looked at an interim role, as did other board members, but I knew from the beginning that the strongest candidate was Meg.

"She is decisive and a people person. I predict HP employees will get on her side because she is going to get on their side really quickly," he continued." I can't think of a name I would select outside Meg to lead this company."

Whitman pledged to drive a decision on HP's PC business soon. "The best thing we can do is get to a decision on PCs as fast as we can. It's not like fine wine and does not get better with time," she quipped.

Krista Macomber, a research analyst at Technology Business Research Inc. said HP should retain the PC business. "The synergies between PCs and the rest of HP's business are positive, giving the company greater scale and allowing it to leverage its sales forces and partnership ecosystem." Whitman said she has met with top HP executives, but not rank-and-file employees. "The employees want to be led, this organization has been through a lot and they want very much for this company, that is an icon in Silicon Valley, to succeed."

- Rick Merritt
??EE Times

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