Hewlett Packard Rebuilds Its Battered Board With Three Big Wigs: Ray Ozzie, James Skinner, Dob Bennett

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Ray Ozzie

In another sign that HP is getting its act together after a rough couple of years, HP on Monday announced that it landed three new board members.

All have impressive backgrounds: tech legend and former Microsoft CTO Ray Ozzie, the former CEO of Liberty Media Dob Bennett, and the former CEO of McDonald’s and current chairman of Walgreens, Jim Skinner.

Last March, shareholders nearly ousted three board members, blaming them for nearly $17 billion in write-downs from some of HP's biggest acquisitions including Compaq, EDS, and Autonomy.

The Autonomy acquisition was particularly ugly. Under former CEO Leo Apotheker, HP bought Autonomy for $11 billion and then, less than a year later, wrote down $8.8 billion in goodwill and claimed it had discovered $5 billion of accounting fraud on Autonomy's books after the deal had closed. Various legal and regulatory authorities are now investigating.

Activist shareholders hotly criticised three board members: McKesson CEO John Hammergren, Wachovia CEO G. Kennedy Thompson, and Ray Lane. All three were were nearly voted off the board during the company's annual shareholder meeting in March. That's almost unheard of. Shareholders typically vote for standing board members with a high majority of votes.

Shortly after, Hammergren and Thompson resigned and Lane gave up his chairman's seat, but remained on the board. (Some sources say Lane refused to step down voluntarily, too.)

Ralph Whitworth, a veteran shareholder activist, agreed to run the board as chairman temporarily and to staff it.

After the hubbub, another board member, legendary venture capitalist Marc Andreessen, gave his full-throated supported to HP's current CEO Meg Whitman, calling her an "outstanding" CEO.

"This company built Silicon Valley. It deserves to be a glorious success story for decades to come. I am going to stick with it for as long as I can be useful," he said in April.

The news of a rebuilt board of directors hasn't wowed investors so far. The stock is trading flat at ~$26.   Here's the full press release from HP:

PALO ALTO, Calif., July 15, 2013 — HP today announced that its board of directors has appointed three new members.

Robert R. “Dob” Bennett, former president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Liberty Media Corporation; Raymond E. Ozzie, former chief software architect of Microsoft Corporation and founder of Talko Inc.; and James A. Skinner, former vice chairman and CEO of McDonald’s Corporation and current chairman of Walgreen Co., will join HP’s board, effective today. The appointments increase the number of HP directors from nine to 12.

Over the coming months, the board will continue to search for additional world-class directors as well as a permanent non-executive chairman. Ralph V. Whitworth will continue to serve as chairman of the board on an interim basis.

“In April, we made a pledge to recruit the very best, most talented leaders to HP’s already outstanding board,” said Whitworth. “Dob, Ray and Jim bring tremendous capital allocation, technological, operational and leadership expertise and experience to the table. I’m confident they will make enormous contributions as we support Meg and her team in rebuilding HP by better serving our customers, strengthening our partnerships and building value for our shareholders. It’s an enormously satisfying time to be part of HP, and today’s announcement adds to our ability to deliver on our promises.”

“As we move forward with our turnaround, it’s a huge benefit to be able to get advice from a board made up of such experienced business and technology leaders,” said Meg Whitman, president and CEO, HP. “For their part, Dob, Ray and Jim have just about seen it all during their careers. I’m very grateful for their support, as well as the ongoing support from all of the directors.”

With their addition to the board, Bennett will become a member of the Finance and Investment Committee and the Audit Committees, Ozzie will join the Technology Committee and the Finance and Investment Committee, and Skinner will join the Audit, HR and Compensation, and Nominating and Governance Committees. Note to editors: Ralph Whitworth posted comments regarding this announcement at www.hpnext.com.

About Robert R. “Dob” Bennett

Dob Bennett is the former president and CEO of Liberty Media Corporation. He served in those positions from April 1997 until August 2005. He was one of the founding executives of Liberty, serving as the principal financial officer from its inception in 1991 until 1997. He currently is principal of Hilltop Investments, LLC, a family investment company.

Bennett also served as president of Discovery Holding Company, Inc. from March 2005 until September 2008, when it was merged with Discovery Communications, Inc., creating a new public company. Prior to his tenure at Liberty, Bennett worked with TeleCommunications, Inc. in a variety of financial positions and with The Bank of New York. He currently serves on the boards of Liberty Media Corporation, Discovery Communications, Inc., Sprint Corporation and Demand Media, Inc.

Bennett holds a bachelor’s degree with honors in economics from Denison University and an MBA from Columbia University.

About Raymond E. Ozzie

Ray Ozzie, an industry visionary and pioneer in computer-supported cooperative work, left his role as Microsoft’s chief software architect in December 2010 and founded Talko Inc., a firm focused on a new generation of mobile communications applications and services.

Ozzie assumed the role of chief software architect at Microsoft in June 2006. In that role, Ozzie had oversight of the company’s technical strategy and product architecture, and directed development of the company’s next-generation software services platform. Ozzie was Microsoft’s chief technical officer from April 2005 to June 2006. He took up that role when Microsoft acquired Groove Networks, Inc., a collaboration software firm Ozzie formed in 1997.

Before Groove, Ozzie was a founder and president of Iris Associates, where he created and led the development of Lotus Notes. Before Iris, Ozzie contributed to the development of Lotus Symphony and Software Arts’ TK!Solver and VisiCalc, and worked in distributed operating systems development at Data General Corp.

Honored as one of seven “Windows Pioneers” by Microsoft, Ozzie also was named “Person of the Year” in 1995 by PC Magazine and has been inducted into the Computer Museum Industry Hall of Fame and the InfoWorld Hall of Fame. In November 2000, he received the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Computer Society’s W. Wallace McDowell Award, and in 2001, he was honored as a World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer. In 2004, Ozzie was inducted as a member of the National Academy of Engineering, and in 2010, he was named as a fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. Ozzie has served as a member of the National Research Council’s Computer Science and Telecommunications Board and currently serves on the board of directors of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC).

Ozzie earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

About James A. Skinner

Jim Skinner has served as a member of the Walgreen Co. board of directors since 2005, and was appointed non-executive chairman in July 2012. He is the retired vice chairman and chief executive officer of McDonald’s Corporation. Before his promotion to McDonald’s CEO in November 2004, Skinner served as vice chairman overseeing restaurant operations in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America.

Skinner held numerous leadership positions during his McDonald’s career. Before becoming vice chairman, he served as president and chief operating officer of the McDonald’s Restaurant Group, with responsibility for the company’s more than 30,000 McDonald’s restaurants in 119 countries. Prior to that, Skinner was president of McDonald’s Europe.

Skinner joined McDonald’s International management team in 1992 as senior vice president and relationship partner, overseeing McDonald’s development in Africa, Central Europe, India and the Middle East.

After serving in the U.S. Navy for nearly 10 years, Skinner began his career with McDonald’s in 1971 as a restaurant manager trainee in Carpentersville, Ill. He advanced quickly and held numerous positions in the U.S. company, including director of field operations, market manager, regional vice president and U.S. senior vice president/zone manager.

Until his retirement, Skinner served on the board of directors of McDonald’s Corporation and currently serves on the boards of Ronald McDonald House Charities and Illinois Tool Works, Inc.

Skinner also is a member of several civic and business organizations, including The Economic Club of Chicago. He also serves on the board of trustees for the Museum of Science and Industry.  



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