Daily Archives: January 20, 2011

H-P’s new Board of Directors: rational shakeup or rehab for ousted executives?

So what is it about HP these days? It’s top management is looking more like a home for executives who fail elsewhere.

Since when did the foundational Silicon Valley firm become a way station to retirement?

The new CEO, Leo Apotheker, was fired from SAP after 8 months as its CEO. The new Chairman, Ray Lane, was fired as President of Oracle. And three of the newest board members failed at their last gigs: Meg Whitman was trounced by a 70 year old in the governors’ race and some believe her last few years at E-Bay were nothing to brag about, Patricia Russo was pushed out in a shareholders revolt at Alcatel/Lucent, and in circumstances that are not clear Gary Reiner left GE as its Chief Information Officer after a long career there.

If one is looking for a logical explanation for the new board members, it is striking that two have long time consulting backgrounds and two have strong connections to private equity groups. This suggests that the real plan is to break up the company – since there is no word from Apotheker, a software salesman, about how he intends to run a hardware company, perhaps this is the real explanation – he isn’t going to run a hardware company. He is going to break it up and sell it off and use the cash to build a new business. I made that point in the Mercury News coverage this afternoon here.

H-P Shakes Up Board of Directors – WSJ.com.