Leo Apotheker, the president and CEO of Hewlett-Packard is replaced by Meg Whitman by HP’s board of directors. Apotheker joined HP on September 30, 2010. Today, just a year later, he has stepped down from his post.
Under the leadership of Apotheker, HP’s stock lost nearly half of its value, basically squandered Mark Hurds’ $1.2 billion investment in Palm and the company was considering cancelling or spinning off its consumer PC business. In short, HP lost its way within the last 357 days.
Apotheker is under fire for his decision to kill HP’s webOS-based tablet, the TouchPad, which was the company’s only shot at countering the success of the Apple iPad and became very popular when its price was slashed in the wake of the killing, reported Mashable.
HP has had seven CEOs in the past 12 years, and the stock is down 43% since Apotheker arrived. So this move is hardly unexpected as it was also rumored extensively over the last week. Meg Whitman was previously the head of ebay and joined HP’s board of directors in January 2011. She also sits on the boards of Procter & Gamble, Zipcar and Teach for America.
In a statement released by HP today, Whitman stated, “I am honored and excited to lead HP. I believe HP matters – it matters to Silicon Valley, California, the country and the world.”
In any case, Whitman has her work cut out. and HP may be easier to fix than California.
The to-do list for Whitman for HP according to cnet:
Decide what to do with the PC business. Should it stay or go? Determine if HP's software strategy is correct and figure out if Autonomy is the right fit. Fix the services business and move it to higher margin deals. If that's not possible, spin off HP Services. Figure out whether HP pulled the plug on the TouchPad too early. Define HP.
Whitman, also ran as the GOP candidate for California Governor last year but failed to beat veteran Democrat Jerry Brown.
The initial reaction to HP's move to name Whitman CEO was expectedly mixed. A lot of Analysts are questioning whether Whitman’s experience running eBay — a vast consumer marketplace — has any relevance to a company that largely sells to enterprises, and which still leans heavily on its printer division. The consensus view is that Whitman has a lot to fix and not a lot of time.
Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu noted:
While we believe she has proven to be a very capable manager helping grow eBay from a start-up into one of the largest internet companies, we think an ideal candidate for HPQ should have extensive experience in the enterprise market. In addition, we believe expertise in supply chain management would be helpful as well.