It’s been a rough year for HP. August 6, 2010 HP’s then CEO Mark Hurd resigned following some misappropriation of funds and later, a sexual harassment suit. On September 30th, Léo Apotheker was elected to be the CEO of HP. Since then, stock value has plummeted and in very recent months HP has made some very questionable decisions. A fire sale on the HP TouchPad led to questioning the value of the acquisition of WebOS. HP’s acquisition of Autonomy was speculated as being over-valued. An idea of spinning off the high-value but low-margin Personal Systems Group (HP desktops and laptop hardware) led many to question HP’s direct trajectory to the enterprise market.
Today, HP presented a press release to announce Meg Whitman as CEO of HP following Léo Apotheker stepping down as president, chief executive officer, and director. Meg Whitman was President and CEO of eBay from 1998 to 2008. She recently ran but lost the election for Governor of California last November.
“We are fortunate to have someone of Meg Whitman’s caliber and experience step up to lead HP,” said Lane. “We are at a critical moment and we need renewed leadership to successfully implement our strategy and take advantage of the market opportunities ahead. Meg is a technology visionary with a proven track record of execution. She is a strong communicator who is customer focused with deep leadership capabilities. Furthermore, as a member of HP’s board of directors for the past eight months, Meg has a solid understanding of our products and markets.”
Comparing HP’s performance to other companies over the same time period as other technology companies, HP has fallen very short compared to Apple, Dell, IBM, and others.
Listening to the conference call that followed today’s announcement, the board and Whitman seem to be behind the path that Léo laid out. The execution, however, will change and this is where the board has determined that the turnover of leadership is worthwhile. Decisions of spinning of PSG and getting value from the acquisition of Palm will determine HP’s future and the heavy scrutiny HP has been under for the past 6 months. If HP starts delivering with upcoming quarters, investors will be much happier than they have in quite a while.