In the past few years, one of the world's most iconic technology companies--Hewlett Packard--has imploded in a spectacular series of missteps.
First it was the controversial hiring and then firing of CEO Carly Fiorina, who bought Compaq and put HP into the personal computer business.
Then it was an eavesdropping scandal, in which the company's chairman was indicted after the board hired investigators to try to figure out which board members were leaking info to the press.
Then it was the controversial firing of CEO Mark Hurd, following an expense-and-sexual-harassment scandal, after a few years in which the stock had performed quite well.
Then it was the hiring of CEO Leo Apotheker, a software expert, to be Hurd's replacement, raising quizzical eyebrows all around. Apotheker quickly got off on the wrong foot by blowing a couple of quarters, embracing the company's new tablet business, and then announcing plans to shutter it. Apotheker then suggested that HP would spin off its PC business to focus on corporate services, a move that caught most people by surprise.
And then, earlier this week, stories appeared that HP's board is meeting to discuss firing Apotheker after less than a year on the job ... and replacing him with former eBay CEO and California governor candidate Meg Whitman. (AllThingsD reports an announcement will be made after the close today.)
The market cheered news that Apotheker might get canned, but the idea of Whitman as HP CEO was greeted with laughter and derision in Silicon Valley. For many observers, the change confirmed that HP's board has utterly lost its way. And Whitman does seem a strange choice to lead an enterprise technology company.
- Leo Apotheker