Former Palm Chief Trashes HP's Handling of WebOS, Calls Sale a "Waste"

Jon Rubinstein, the former Chief Executive Officer of Palm, was willing to discuss the company's sale to Hewlett-Packard, and to say he may regret that decision is putting it lightly. Not only was it a bad decision on hindsight, but he called it a "waste" since HP ultimately ended up wiping its hands of webOS, the main nugget in the $1.2 billion Palm acquisition.

"Well, I'm not sure I would have sold the company to HP. That's for sure. Talk about a waste," Rubinstein told Fierce Wireless. "Not that I had any choice because when you sell a company you don't get to decide that. Obviously, the board and shareholders decide that. If we had known they were just going to shut it down and never really give it a chance to flourish, what would have been the point of selling the company?"

HP Kiosk
Image Source: Flickr (paulswansen)

At the time, Rubinstein said Palm almost had deals in place with Verizon and Vodafone to sell phones running webOS, but both companies decided to back out at the very last minute. Sprint was then next in line.

"We were negotiating with everybody. And the Sprint deal was the best deal we could get at the time," Rubinstein explained. "Palm was dying when I got there. It wasn't like we had the pick of the litter. Everybody forgets that Palm was pretty much dead when we did the recapitalization. It had no future at the time."

It's pretty interesting that Rubinstein still regrets the HP deal, even though it paid a whopping $1.2 billion for a company he says was "pretty much dead" at the time. It's also understandable, given the way HP bungled the acquisition, removing webOS as a promising contender in the lucrative mobile market.