Let's face it: it's not bad being Todd Bradley, the head of HP's Personal Systems Group, nor is it tough being former Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein, who is currently working on the webOS
side at HP. Both of these guys probably have fairly cushy lifestyles and nice corporate paychecks, but the level of stress they have to deal with on a daily basis probably isn't something that's nearly as enviable. Particularly now. According to an All Things D report, HP CEO Léo Apotheker didn't even bother telling Todd that he was about to assault huge parts of the company until a few days before the decision was made public.
According to unnamed sources close to the situation, neither Jon nor Todd were kept in the loop, and neither knew "anything" about these plans up until last Sunday. What a shock to the system that must have been. Now, of course, the question is whether or not these two will hang tight. Jon was already replaced by Stephen DeWitt, and he now reports to Bradley. And while even Leo suggests that webOS will continue on in some way, we have to wonder if these two will have enough of a stake in it to continue on. No doubt, other Silicon Valley companies would love to add either to their roster.
All of this brings us back to something that happened years ago, but now seems a lot clearer. Rahul Sood. Rahul is the mastermind behind VoodooPC, a high-end, custom gaming shop that was eventually purchased under HP's PC wing. At first, it seemed fine. Dell had purchased Alienware; HP had purchased Voodoo. It seemed like parallel moves for both behemoths to get closer to the lucrative hardcore gaming sect. But while Alienware
has thrived under Dell's wing, the love affair was short-lived between Rahul and HP.
After the monumental move to ditch webOS devices, Rahul tweeted the following: "HP made their move - they won't go back on it. They think they're amputating an arm, but they are removing both legs and a pair of balls." It's a bold, if not somewhat inappropriate statement, but it's not hard to see where Rahul's coming from. HP smothered the Voodoo brand as soon as it was purchased, soon removing all Voodoo labeling altogether. HP did the same with Palm; Palm's webOS became HP webOS, and so on. That was a horrible move from the start -- no consumer is enthusiastic about their "HP product," but many were over Palm products. Turns out, that was just the first shoe to drop.
Either way, it's certainly a compelling story, and how all of this links back to HP's past smothering of wildly successful consumer brands is no doubt interesting. In fact, maybe HP really is better off focusing on enterprise, despite how uninteresting they'll soon become to the consumer-facing world.