As Fast As Speed of Light, Meg Whitman Becomes New HP CEO

Jay Decenella, IT audit expert
September 23, 2011 /

Shortly after reports came out that the HP board was considering Meg Whitman to replace Leo Apotheker as its CEO, the former eBay chief is now leading one of the world’s largest companies.

HP recently struggled with poor company performance after Apotheker failed in different strategic shifts during his 11-month stint as CEO, including its recent acquisitions of Palm and Compaq Computer, a move that seemed absurd then especially considering today’s unstable market.

Apotheker also largely supported the $12 billion deal to buy British software maker Autonomy, a move too costly to achieve.

Meg Whitman said she will stick by the strategies initiated by her predecessor, on strong conviction that investors are likely to nod on steady leadership than on another shift in actions.

“It does not signal a change in the strategy. We are behind the actions that were taken on Aug. 18. We are firmly committed to Autonomy,” Whitman said.

Whitman confirmed that HP will carry on with acquiring U.K. software marker Autonomy Corp. for $10.3 billion.

Her plan to support Apotheker’s unfinished business means the company is going to consider whether to sell or spin off the personal-computer division.

But HP’s path has been thrown with a lot more spikes as analysts criticized Meg Whitman’s appointment.

“All right, they got a superstar, they got a big name, they got someone well-known in Silicon Valley, but is she someone who really knows HP? That’s not clear,” James Rogers of The Street said.

Rogers said he believes what HP needs is someone with a background in the computer industry because the problem with the company right now is its attempt at many “wholesale changes” like spinning off the PC business, which is not “popular”.

David Garrity, former chief financial officer of interCLICK, shares Rogers’s idea.

What HP needs is someone who has better understanding of the business, Garrity told Bloomberg.

“Meg Whitman is not really somebody who understands hardware or services,” he added, calling her appointment as HP CEO a “crazy idea.”

On the other hand, the appointment of Meg Whitman has sent HP shares crumbling to their six-year low in premarket trading today, down 42 cents, or 1.8 percent, at $22.38 stock-index futures pointed down.

HP will have to clarify with Wall Street whether it would wade through its plan to spin off or sell the PC business.

 

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