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Friday, September 23, 2011

Everything that's wrong with American corporations, right here
Posted by Jill | 5:35 AM
We have three HP computers -- a laptop, a "tablet PC" with a swivel screen that pre-dates the iPad, and a kickass desktop that we bought a few months ago. HP makes nice machines, and we switched to that brand when Dell quality started to go downhill a few years ago.

I don't know if we'll be buying any moe HPs, though, because the people who run the company and its board of directors are among the biggest bunch of nincompoops ever to disgrace a boardroom:
Hewlett-Packard Co named former eBay Inc Chief Executive Meg Whitman its president and CEO, replacing the harshly criticized Leo Apotheker in a bid to restore investor confidence in the iconic Silicon Valley company.

The decision was made without a formal CEO search and piled renewed criticism on the board, which investors have blamed -- at least in part -- for the storied company's recent missteps.

Chairman Ray Lane, who becomes Executive Chairman with a mandate to help Whitman run a sprawling $120 billion empire with over 300,000 employees, tried to assure disillusioned investors by saying HP is making a fresh start with a new CEO and -- crucially -- a virtually revamped board of directors.

Lane vowed that the days of board dysfunction -- the wire-tapping scandal, the firing of Mark Hurd after a sexual harassment probe, and the hiring of Apotheker -- were over.

The board works well together, he said.

"It's amazing how they challenge the management team, challenge each other," Lane said in an interview. "They are smart, they bring great insight to the table and I think we make good decisions."

Analysts had speculated that Apotheker's departure might presage a backtracking on major decisions taken during his 11-month term and announced -- back to back in haphazard fashion -- on August 18. But HP reassured investors on a conference call the board will not reverse course.

"I don't think we ought to be going back in history. This board did not select Leo. This is not the board that was around for pretexting," Lane said, referring to the scandal in which HP hired investigators who impersonated its board members and journalists to obtain their phone records.

"This is not the board that fired Mark Hurd," he noted. "We are embarrassed about the communications of decisions that could have been done much better. But we carefully considered the decisions made. It is our operating execution that needs to improve."

Whitman, an Internet retail expert with a mixed track record, is not an obvious choice to revive HP, analysts said. The failed California gubernatorial candidate transformed eBay from a few dozen employees in 1998 into a global Internet retail powerhouse, but the final years of her reign were marked by sputtering growth, intensifying Wall Street criticism and a string of unwise acquisitions, including of Skype.

She has been an HP director about eight months. While her elevation surprised many with its seeming hastiness -- for the second time, internal candidates such as enterprise chief David Donatelli were passed over -- Apotheker's ejection had been a matter of time.

He becomes the third straight HP CEO shown the door.

Apotheker certainly seems to be a moron, what with his recent public musings that HP might sell off its personal computer business. But Meg Whitman, who received praise and accolades from turning eBay from a smallish business where you could buy and sell your stuff to other people who would actually pay you if you were selling, and send the goods if you were buying, into a massive free-for-all, where people can hijack your user ID and there is no way that you have to close the account if you owe them fifty cents in old seller fees and no way to pay the fifty cents in seller fees because they need a credit card to do it for all that they own PayPal and they will not accept a payment of less than a dollar, and then if you make a payment of a dollar they won't close your account because you have a credit balance, plans to continue Apotheker's strategies, perhaps because she doesn't know what the hell she's doing either. (Yes, this is a run-on sentence, and yes, this is a true story, and yes, this is my experience with eBay.) What did the Board do, draw straws among themselves to see who would be the new CEO?

This hasty, bonehead move has does not impress the people who actually know something about technology -- not Wall Street analysts who worship before the altar of star power, but in the tech circles, about how a once-great company is being run.

If the Board had wanted to use the Crony Method to choose a new CEO, here are some of their other members: Netscape founder and Mosaic inventor Marc Andreesen; former Verizon president Larry Babbio; and current HP Chairman and former Oracle president Ray Lane.

Looks like our next notebook PC will be a Mac.

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Anonymous The Wifely Person said...
When my company changed the customer application, they took an elegant, wonderful product that, it's true, needed some work that only an experienced, competent team of programmers could do, and instituted something that sent us back 10 years.

this is because the EVP of a rival company became our division CEO and, as i figure, his wife's cousin's sister-in-law's brother's nephew's son needed a job when he graduated from that august institution, Joe's Kolluge of Komputing.

We who sevice the customers hate it. The customers hate it. And when they walk, as several extremely large clients have already done over this, they just _might_ get the message that they need to pay attention the the trench monkeys AND the clients.

So that HP hired Meg "HUGER is better" Whitman should come as no surprise. It's cronyism in its highest form.

Go with a Mac. It's elegance in action. My lap top is a PC (inherited) but the rest of my world is all Mac.

Anonymous neonnautilus said...
I hope my HP PC keeps on working as long as my HP 12c calculator has. I don't know what I'll do if it craters because I don't like apple. Apple products may be good, but I hope I never have to find out because I don't like Jobs or his company on principle.

Blogger Pangolin said...
My older sister, her husband, and my younger brother are all computer/electronics wizards who all worked for HP in the 90's before they split off their instrument division. Between them they don't own a single HP product now.

The new model for american corporations is that they are run for the benefit of a small group of executives consisting of the CEO, the board of directors and their various cronies. This small group tends to loot the company for short term profits at the expense of the shareholders, the greater mass of the employees and the nation.

If the U.S. doesn't start telling itself the truth things are going to get very ugly.

Blogger Nan said...
I noticed the Wall Street reaction to the selection of Whitman was for the price of HP stock to drop fairly dramatically. I'm anticipating her driving the company into bankruptcy in short order -- Ebay was a financial success more because of luck (timing) than any managerial genius, and you're right, it truly sucks now. I'm always moderately amazed there are still people willing to either buy or sell on it -- my initial experience was a bad one, and nothing I've seen since has changed my mind.

Blogger Batocchio said...
I've also heard complaints that the quality of HP's products has dropped in the past few years. FWIW, my HP all-in-one died earlier this year (about six years old).