On HP’s Board, its CEO and its Future

HP has been in the news for all the wrong reasons this year. First of all, its board fired its CEO Mark Hurd over a sexual harassment scandal, which turned out to be something trivial. That was a huge mistake on the part of HP’s board, because Mark Hurd was probably one of the best CEOs HP could have had, and firing him made the stock tank.

After that it poached Leo Apotheker from SAP, who in an attempt to revitalize HP, announced that HP would be spinning off its PC business and would try to become a software company with the $10 billion acquisition of Autonomy, which by many analyst estimates, was overpriced.

Did I mention that it also killed webOS and organized a TouchPad fire sale which cost HP hundreds of millions of dollars?

Leo had always been a software guy, and coming from SAP, his strategy for HP would have eventually ended up with HP venturing into software. At least he was doing something to keep HP relevant in the impending future (which could arguably have been the right move, considering how well IBM had done after selling off the consumer PC business to Lenovo).

HP’s stock has dropped almost 30-40% since Mark Hurd’s reign, and apparently, its board is now in a state of panic. It seems to be considering firing Apotheker, and rethink its strategy. The markets seem to be cheering the board’s latest decision with the stock jumping almost 10% today. It may be right this time, but it is definitely the worst board I’ve ever seen. Even Yahoo’s board isn’t so temperamental and confused.

The next few months will be very instrumental in deciding HP’s future. The decisions its incompetent board makes will decide whether HP will live on for the next decade, or if it will fade away into obscurity.

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