The board of HP is said to be considering replacing its current CEO Leo Apotheker with ex-eBay CEO Meg Whitman, reports All Things D. They cite several sources ‘close’ to the situation in outlining that Whitman is being considered but that the replacement of Apotheker is not a ‘done deal’ yet.
The replacement of Apotheker would come just weeks after HP announced that they would be ceasing the production of their mobile webOS hardware and would be ceasing production of consumer PC’s. The decision was largely attributed to Apotheker’s desire to make HP more of an enterprise-focused company, much like his former firm SAP.
A significant portion of the board is now looking to remove Apotheker for mis-management. Whitman has apparently been looking for another high-powered executive job after running for, and failing to win, the Governor’s seat in California. She had since been working as a part-time consultant at venture firm Kleiner Perkins.
HP is currently being sued by shareholders who believe that the company mis-handled the dropping of webOS hardware and the pivoting of the company into an enterprise affair. The suit names Apotheker, a man who many feel never intended to give webOS a real fighting chance to grow. He came to HP with a background in enterprise and, some say, always intended to remake HP in the image of his previous company SAP, from which he was dropped before being hired on by HP.
According to our sources, almost everyone at HP found out about the death of the TouchPad and Pre hardware as the public did, in the press release. Only the top executives knew anything about this decision and even senior staff as high as Ari Jaaksi, the Vice President of webOS software, didn’t know about the shuttering of hardware before it happened.
We later learned that the one-line press release announcement was an emergency response to the news being leaked to Reuters that webOS hardware was on the outs, and that HP didn’t want to announce it at the same time as the Autonomy acquisition.
This move by HP’s board shows that they agree that the company has been mishandled under Apotheker’s reign and that they are turning to Whitman, a CEO with much experience running a large corporation successfully, to save their bacon.
There are lingering doubts however, about their ability to run a hardware-focused company like HP as her experience at eBay was largely on the consumer services front. What do you think? Is Whitman the key ingredient that can turn HP around or is Apotheker on the right track taking HP out of the competitive consumer hardware market and into the enterprise?