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Ex-Board Member Says HP Is Committing 'Corporate Suicide' 394

Posted by timothy
from the suicide-by-1000-cuts dept.
theodp writes "If Apple's looking for a seamless transition, advises the NYT's James B. Stewart, it definitely shouldn't look to Hewlett Packard. In the year after HP CEO Mark Hurd was told to hit-the-road-Jack, HP — led by new CEO Leo Apotheker — has embarked on a stunning shift in strategy that has left many baffled and resulted in HP's fall from Wall Street grace (its stock declined 49%). The apparent new focus on going head-to-head with SAP (Apotheker's former employer) and Oracle (Hurd's new employer) in enterprise software while ignoring the company's traditional strengths, said a software exec, is 'as if Alan Mulally left Boeing to join Ford as CEO, and announced six months later that Ford would be making airplanes.' Former HP Director Tom Perkins said, 'I didn't know there was such a thing as corporate suicide, but now we know that there is.'"
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Ex-Board Member Says HP Is Committing 'Corporate Suicide'

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  • Deja vu (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 29, 2011 @08:12AM (#37240134)

    Nokia, anyone?

  • by yog (19073) * on Monday August 29, 2011 @08:14AM (#37240146) Homepage Journal

    Shouldn't HP have at least tried to make a go of their WebOs tablet before giving up so quickly? They can't possibly have recouped the investment costs of purchasing Palm, etc.

    It's not as though personal computers are going away any time soon. Corporations still need desktop workstations, albeit more in the direction of thin Internet portal devices than the heavily loaded computers of the past.

    HP should come out with a world class ultra lightweight laptop to compete with the MacBook Air, with a touch screen and very long battery life. They should come out with an innovative line of consumer and business PCs with touch screen monitors, tiny form factor similar to Mac Mini, remotely flashable, all the bells and whistles. And they should built on their handheld base, come out with some state of the art handsets and tablets to round out their portfolio.

    Software services is all very well, but there are plenty of competitors in that space and HP will not be having a picnic. Why did they buy compaq and Palm to begin with? Methinks the current board has taken leave of their senses.

  • by blind biker (1066130) on Monday August 29, 2011 @08:26AM (#37240226) Journal

    It's time we start acknowledging that CEOs of publicly traded companies don't give a shit about the companies they are supposed to lead. They got into positions thanks to buddy networks and golf course chats. These people are supremely capable at social manipulation and lining their own pockets.

    Why, is the HP CEO in any way going to feel the sting if he leaves a smoldering corpse of a company behind him? Is he not going to get paid? Scrap that: is he not going to get handsomely paid + bonuses + golden parachute? So why the fuck wouldn't he blow up HP? The guy is getting paid in either case, so why not get on with his psychopathy and have fun with wanton destruction of other people's lives?

  • Re:Deja vu (Score:4, Insightful)

    by alen (225700) on Monday August 29, 2011 @08:31AM (#37240258)

    they were screwed long before the current CEO took over. making feature phones and geek phones when apple and android are taking over is not a recipe for success

  • by OzPeter (195038) on Monday August 29, 2011 @08:32AM (#37240272)

    HP used to mean printers in the minds of many people. That time faded.

    In my mind HP will always be remembered as being the one of the best test equipment manufacturers, followed closely by calculators. A company that was by engineers, for engineers.

  • by somersault (912633) on Monday August 29, 2011 @08:41AM (#37240322) Homepage Journal

    The whole "cloud computing" fad hasn't helped the demand for hardware, either.

    It's amazing how all of these new cloud hosting services are magicking their hardware out of the clouds..

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday August 29, 2011 @08:42AM (#37240324) Journal
    I am fond of webOS(application base is tiny; but the interface is actually quite well thought out. The "cards" work quite well. Hell, maybe team Google will pick up their smoldering remains at the firesale and polish up the 'chromebooks' with some of the UI touches...)

    As for the IBM analogy, though, HP has a hard road ahead of it. IBM has always made hardware; but they've always had a software/support/consulting arm extracting its pound of flesh along with the hardware, from back when their job was to customize the Hollerith card reader for your application up the the present 'enterprise database middleware yadda yadda' stuff. They did ditch their desktop/laptop business, and they will, if asked, sell you some bare servers, dell style, for just cost+warranty; but they have always been a combined hardware/services entity. HP, by contrast, is more of a pure hardware/engineering shop that has been bleeding actual engineering talent for a while now.
  • by somersault (912633) on Monday August 29, 2011 @08:44AM (#37240348) Homepage Journal

    How do you know that it wasn't the board that wanted to move in this direction, and so head-hunted the guy from SAP specifically because he had good experience in the software sector?

  • by ducomputergeek (595742) on Monday August 29, 2011 @08:53AM (#37240406)

    Say what you will about Apple and Steve Jobs, but at least Jobs gave a damn about the products his company made.

  • by sortius_nod (1080919) on Monday August 29, 2011 @08:54AM (#37240414) Homepage

    I really don't think you can compare HP's aimlessness and IBMs ruthlessness. IBM actually probably did the smartest thing they could "fuck it, if you want the consumer end of the market China, you can have it".

    Meanwhile HP dumps what could have actually lifted them out of the doldrums and focuses on an already overcrowded market. Not exactly the smartest thing to do.

    Going up against SAP & Oracle is not as easy as it seems. Oracle isn't just Oracle, people forget this. Oracle is the base of a huge chunk of database systems (think... well... SAP & Maximo [IBM]).

  • by Hatta (162192) on Monday August 29, 2011 @09:01AM (#37240474) Journal

    IBM always had good software to support their hardware. HP ships 344mb [hp.com] printer drivers.

  • CEO background (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kupfernigk (1190345) on Monday August 29, 2011 @09:08AM (#37240532)
    What do you expect? How on Earth did HP come to appoint a CEO from a software-only company that has probably never seen an end user customer in his life? It isn't as if Ford appointed a CEO from Boeing; it is as if they appointed a CEO from a fleet leasing company. The result; a decision announced in haste that was bound to deprecate HP as a brand. Apotheker seems to have forgotten - or did not know - that today's phone buyer may be tomorrow's CIO.

    Yes, the could have sold the tablets at a small loss. And, since the Pre 2 phone sells happily in its unlocked state at around $200 in the UK, they could have sold off the Pre 3 for maybe a little more. Legally in the EU they must support the things, so they might as well do it properly. But no...

    I happen to like phones with portrait format and keyboards. Some people do. I'm now having to look at the BB Torch 9810 for a next phone. It doesn't look to be as good or as convenient as the Pre 3. OK the screen is smaller that an iPhone's, the processor is slower than on a Samsung. But the actual operation as a phone/messaging device is that much nicer than either. Some people prefer, say, the Prius to an Audi or a BMW. HP just never bothered to find its market and then market to it. Yet if there was a company that could have taken on RIM, it was HP.

  • by Merk42 (1906718) on Monday August 29, 2011 @09:11AM (#37240558)

    Yes any time a competitor to Microsoft fails, it MUST be because they were bribed, not because of poor sales and/or business decisions. I guess when Microsoft Kin failed it must have been because they bribed themselves.

    Also, HP isn't just getting out of WebOS, it's getting out of selling PCs. It is the #1 seller of Windows based PCs. So why the hell would Microsoft bribe them to stop doing that?

  • by WindBourne (631190) on Monday August 29, 2011 @10:46AM (#37241528) Journal
    they would move the production back to America and focus on INNOVATION. It is easy enough to do. However, HP no longer does that. Right now, the only major American company that is into innovation is Apple and google. The reason is that we have allowed too many MBAs to run companies. If you notice, neither Apple nor Google has MBA's running them. Sadly, Apple's new CEO IS an MBA, and he will probably destroy them.
  • Re:Ford Trimotor (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 29, 2011 @10:56AM (#37241670)

    You're wrong. You are the only thing worse than a grammar nazi -- you are an incorrect grammar nazi.

    You're thinking of "could care less" vs. "couldn't care less", which is entirely different.

    Healthy people give one or two shits a day, and normal people consider them absolutely worthless. To a normal person, to "give a shit" means that one is willing to give something absolutely worthless in exchange, but no more. It's the penultimate denial of value. Of course, the ultimate denial of value is if one "doesn't give a shit", which means that one is not even willing to give something worthless in exchange.

    I suspect your confusing comes from being an anal retentive grammar nazis. You probably have a hard time pooping, so you think of poop as valuable.

  • Re:Deja vu (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Colonel Korn (1258968) on Monday August 29, 2011 @01:36PM (#37243794)

    While the old guard hated her, she put the company in a position to be profitable again.

    It is looking like firing Carly was an awful idea. Like it or not, she had the company moving in a direction, and they were making plenty of money.They had kicked dell out of the corporate laptop business ( the end of the market that makes money ) and were starting to do the same with corporate desktops. They were making money, lots of it. And they have been chasing their tail since. They will soon spin out into two or three companies, the software services one will crash and burn. The profitable sector will be the one stamping their name on calculators and printers designed and made in China.

    She killed their golden egg laying gooses in every department. Sure, cutting costs led to some short term profit but she simply erased the majority of HP's long term prospects. It's hard to believe she didn't know she was trading the future for a few years of profit.

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