It's been a rough couple of weeks for HP since CEO Leo Apotheker announced plans to spin off their computer division and discontinued webOS hardware. Everyone everywhere seems to think it is a terrible mistake that will ultimately sink the company. Apotheker asserts that focusing on the software and services business will bring HP back to prosperity, but the rest of the world seems to think it is a terrible decision.
The rest of the world seems to include HP's Board of Directors, as Leo Apotheker was let go only 11 months after joining the company. If you remember, he was brought in to replace former CEO Mark Hurd was terminated for inappropriate behavior with a contractor. Since taking over, Apotheker has constantly been a source of confusion for those of us who spend our lives covering the industry. After promising a bright future for webOS and then closing the platform, it is no surprise he is out.
Who will replace him? We have her name and history after the break.
Meg Whitman, former eBay CEO and current gubernatorial candidate in California, has been chosen to replace Apotheker. Whitman was brought in as a board member about 8 months ago and was chosen for her history of success while at the helm of eBay. To take the executive chairman position on the BoD, the company has chosen to promote Ray Lane. About the change, Lane said,
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.
While the company suggests that the departure was voluntary, it is a pretty good guess that the voluntary decision was forced. Lane suggests the same, saying,
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.
So, what does the future of HP hold? Will they change their course or continue down the path of disaster? According to her first press conference, Whitman says she plans to stay the course, despite all of the controversy. She plans to continue with the $10.3 billion acquisition of British software company Autonomy as well as the sell-off of the PC division. "A decision like this is not like fine wine, it doesn't get better with age."
I wonder how long she's going to last.