Whitman's challenge: An inside view of HP
9/23/2011 6:23 PM EDT
No doubt Hewlett-Packard Co. employees have plenty of thoughts about the company's latest CEO appointment. One HP employee, he asked not to be named for obvious reasons, shared some candid thoughts about what it's like to now be working for HP's fourth chief executive since 2005.
Below are some of them, mixed with some editor notes for perspective.
Note: HP CEOs Carly Fiorina (2000-2005) and Mark Hurd (2006-2010) were paid severance packages estimated at $21 million and about $40 million respectively.
"We are not rich; we are hard working. We don't have golden parachutes and get paid millions for our mistakes. Our futures are tied into the success of HP. But in the past 10 years we have suffered CEOs who focus on their bonuses not on rebuilding the best company Silicon Valley ever produced—stop screwing up our futures!"
Note: HP's stock price, which closed down slightly at $22.62 Friday (Sept. 23), is actually slightly above where it was 10 years ago. But after peaking above $50 in 2010, the share price has steadily eroded much of this year.
"HP stock is one of the worst performing stocks since the tech bubble burst. For those that are in this for the long game, like all of the employees, it has been a disaster from Carly Fiorina onward."
Note: HP acquired Palm for $1.2 billion in April 2010 and discontinued its products in August 2011. It has bid $11.7 billion for server software developer Autonomy. In November 2009 it acquired 3Com for $2.7 billion.
"Stop overpaying for acquisitions. HP has limited cash and unlike IBM who has been making many modest purchases, HP has been placing major bets at high premiums with unclear ROI."
"Palm was a bad purchase from the start and everyone knew it. Hurd made a major strategic mistake tackling a fourth technology [WebOS] when the market can only support three--iOS, Android, and Windows. We all knew it yet no one would listen to the feedback."
Note: Former CEO Leo Apotheker (2010-2011) announced on August 18 that HP is considering spinning off its PC business. HP's new CEO Meg Whitman said the board of directors will make a decision before the end of the year.
"Don't spin off the PC business, transform it. Don't tie its future to Intel and Microsoft. Find meaningful ways to differentiate its products. Let engineers take real and significant risks."
More advice for the HP powers that be:
"Stop cutting R&D and accept a lower profit margin for a bit and invest to win. There are many great ideas that need to be funded. Open the wallets and let the engineers create them."
"Learn from the line engineers not just the executives. Sit down and have frank discussions that focus on the people doing the day-to-day jobs and why they matter. Innovation is occurring at many levels."
"Learn the HP Way. It was developed by strong leaders who understood business and people. Most of us doubt [recent CEOs] learned just how strong and tough our founders were and why people treated them with so much more respect and loyalty. Carly Fiorina and Mark Hurd were powerful and strong in many ways but they were not wise."
"Get a board of directors that has a clue. Their problems have gone public and instead of facing them openly and honestly, they have let things fester. They are to blame for the poor outcomes under Fiorina, Hurd, and now Apotheker."
So this engineer had plenty to say. Others we have reached out to have been slow to respond. We'd love to add more voices to this discussion. Are you a current or former HPer with something to say about the company's direction or the revolving door in the corner office? Or maybe just an observer who has watched with interest the goings on at what is arguable Silicon Valley's most famous company? Add your voice.