DENVER (MarketWatch) -- When Meg Whitman became chief executive of Hewlett-Packard Co. in September 2011, I offered her some friendly advice in a column that began: "Congratulations, Meg Whitman. You are next in line for the H-P boot."
I assured her she eventually would be fired like Leo Apotheker, who lasted all of 11 months, and several other predecessors, who were similarly sacked after embarrassing episodes I need not recount.
I gave Whitman a list of ideas to ward off her inevitable fate for as long as possible. This turned out to be the crucial one:
"Back out of Apotheker's $10.3 billion deal to buy British enterprise-software company Autonomy Corp. Everyone says the deal is overpriced and depletes H-P's coffers. H-P will need the cash for tough times ahead."
I am no technologist. I possess no great financial training. I am just a simple scribe who believes that $10.3 billion is a lot of money to blow on a deal that the last bungling CEO wanted to do.