Well, this is strange. But not entirely unexpected. Rumors had intensified in the last few days that HP was getting ready to switch CEOs for the second time in a year, and those rumors were just put to rest. Because they're true. In September of last year, former CEO of SAP, Léo Apotheker, was chosen to lead HP after the Mark Hurd scandal. Now HP has a whole different kind of scandal to worry about. A scandal involving shaky leadership and questionable decisions.
Today, Meg Whitman (the former CEO of eBay) was named President and Chief Executive Officer of HP, while Ray Lane was appointed executive chairman. Leo's gone altogether. We are told that the board intends to appoint a lead independent director promptly, and yes, these leadership appointments are effective immediately.
Said Lane: "We are fortunate to have someone of Meg Whitman’s caliber and experience step up to lead HP. We are at a critical moment and we need renewed leadership to successfully implement our strategy and take advantage of the market opportunities ahead. Meg is a technology visionary with a proven track record of execution. She is a strong communicator who is customer focused with deep leadership capabilities. Furthermore, as a member of HP’s board of directors for the past eight months, Meg has a solid understanding of our products and markets."
Meg seemed equally enthused: "I am honored and excited to lead HP. I believe HP matters – it matters to Silicon Valley, California, the country and the world." Speaking on behalf of the board, Lane said, “We very much appreciate Léo’s efforts and his service to HP since his appointment last year. The board believes that the job of the HP CEO now requires additional attributes to successfully execute on the company’s strategy. Meg Whitman has the right operational and communication skills and leadership abilities to deliver improved execution and financial performance.”
So, what does this mean in the big picture? Well, another fresh start for HP, but sadly, it probably won't revive webOS -- the mobile OS that Leo effectively killed before leaving. It will certainly leave a lasting impression, and it'll be something that sticks with him as his final move while head of the company. There's also speculation that he's taking home a huge golden parachute after effectively failing at the job for 12 months, proving once again that it's good to be king. We hope HP can find itself in the coming months, and since they haven't sold off their consumer PC business quite yet, maybe Meg can salvage and restart that. Nothing to do but take a deep breath and try to move ahead at this point.