Hewlett-Packard

John Gapper

It is just about possible to regard Meg Whitman’s decision to split Hewlett-Packard in two as consistent. Her first move when appointed three years ago was to keep the whole thing together but now may simply be a better time to attempt a separation than the rushed effort by Léo Apotheker, her predecessor.

All the same, despite the greater discipline and focus that Ms Whitman has brought to HP since Mr Apotheker’s unhappy period at the helm, the underlying logic was relentless. HP is no longer the technology growth stock it once was so all roads tend to lead to corporate re-engineering. Read more

Andrew Hill

“Real business value”, “industry-shifting technology”, “unsurpassed innovation” or “accounting improprieties, misrepresentations and disclosure failures”? Or both?

Hewlett-Packard’s accolades for Autonomy’s technology are drawn from an HP “fact sheet” which is helpfully included in the “related links” HP provides from Tuesday’s withering online statement about an $8.8bn impairment charge. Most of the charge relates, HP says, to alleged improprieties at the UK software company the US group bought last year.

The announcement brings back into the open the sort of concerns that dogged Autonomy as Mike Lynch, its co-founder, built up the business – and that he always dismissed as untrue. Read more

John Gapper

The appointment of Meg Whitman today to replace Léo Apotheker at Hewlett-Packard is a resounding blow to Mr Apotheker. But it also reflects very badly on the hapless HP board.

I was very critical of Mr Apotheker’s abrupt change of course in August, arguing that he had “needlessly alienated investors by thrusting so much unpalatable information and future uncertainty on them at once. He should have taken things steadily rather than making a big bang.”

But what was HP’s board doing by appointing him less than a year ago, agreeing to his strategic shift, including a spin-off of its personal computer division, and then turning round and jettisoning him after the market reacted badly? Read more

John Gapper

What is it with Silicon Valley bosses and email? First it was Steve Jobs of Apple telling a student to “please leave us alone” and now Larry Ellison of Oracle has sent out his frank views of the appointment of Léo Apotheker as chief executive of Hewlett-Packard.

Mr Ellison emailed the FT with the following blast: Read more

John Gapper

As the ousting of Mark Hurd as chief executive of Hewlett-Packard starts to fade from the headlines, one aspect of it lingers in my mind – the Google search.

Mr Hurd was made to resign by the HP board for allegedly breaching its business conduct rules over his relationship with Jodie Fisher, a marketing contractor to HP (and former soft pornography film actress).

The New York Times notes that:

The situation was made worse after HP discovered that Mr Hurd had viewed some of Ms Fisher’s racy acting on his work computer, signaling that he was aware of her past.

Mr. Hurd has told people that he did a brief Google search of Ms. Fisher in April or May of 2009, nearly two years after she started contract work for HP.

Well, that must send a shudder through many a corporate executive. A single Google search is a pretty flimsy piece of evidence but it is, of course, within the powers of the company to search its records in this way. Read more