Whitman In, Apotheker Out as HP CEO

Rumors of Apotheker's impending departure turn out to be true, but how will the change affect HP?
Posted September 22, 2011

Stuart Johnston

Wednesday, it was only a rumor that HP's board was thinking seriously of jettisoning their CEO of a little less than a year and replacing him with board member and former CEO of eBay, Meg Whitman.

Now, it's official.

HP's (NYSE: HPQ) board announced Thursday afternoon that CEO Leo Apotheker could now add "former CEO of HP" to his resume.

He is being replaced by Whitman, who also takes on the role of HP's president.

Meanwhile, non-executive chairman Ray Lane has been appointed executive chairman of the board of directors, while the board finds and appoints a lead independent director.

Sources close to the company had been leaking murmurs of dissatisfaction about Apotheker's performance and erratic management style since before the company announced disappointing earnings and plans for a major strategic change in direction, last month.

That included the announcement by Apotheker killing off the company's PalmOS and tablet computer products, the potential spin off of HP's PC division, and the $10 billion purchase of enterprise information management software firm Autonomy.

Much of the company's strategic reshuffling has been aimed at reorienting HP's business thrust towards enterprise customers, where executives perceive the big money is to be found. That includes shuttering the Palm computing business that the company spent $1.2 billion on a year ago.

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That also comes despite HP retaining its reputation as the largest PC maker in the world, whose Personal Business Group (PSG) pulled in revenues of $41 billion in fiscal 2010. HP said that it needs to realign its overall business strategy to focus on a future that's more forward facing toward the emerging market for cloud computing and related technologies.

Whitman, who becomes CEO immediately, was formerly CEO of online auction house eBay and is a current HP board member. Last year, she made an unsuccessful run for California governor as a Republican last year.

"I am honored and excited to lead HP. I believe HP matters -- it matters to Silicon Valley, California, the country and the world," Whitman said in a statement.

Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @stuartj1000.

Tags: HP, Apotheker, whitman

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