Hewlett-Packard Board Might Fire CEO Apotheker – Already Has A Replacement Lined Up

leo apotheker hp

Photo: Michael Krigsman/Flickr

Hewlett-Packard is considering firing CEO Leo Apotheker, Bloomberg reports.Former eBay CEO Meg Whitman is being considered for the position, All Things D reports.

The stock is up big today, perhaps on the news.

Apotheker became HP’s CEO after former CEO Mark Hurd was booted from the company following a sex scandal.

Last month – after its Palm division’s tablet flopped – HP announced plans to spin off its PC-making, phone-making, and tablet-making businesses.

A former HP director described the move as “business suicide.”

It’s pretty clear to us that Apotheker has completely lost control of the company.

Some evidence:

  • In February, HP hosted a big deal press announcement in San Francisco announcing that it was taking on the iPad in the consumer space and making a big bet on WebOS by putting it in every Windows PC that ships next year. The TouchPad launched to terrible sales, and now HP has pulled a complete 180 and killed the product — after only seven weeks. A huge waste of time and resources.
  • In March, HP hosted a media strategy day in which he and other execs presented their vision for the company. It was rambling and unclear — a lot of reporters missed the main news, which was the company’s increased emphasis on cloud computing — and didn’t have any indication that HP was even thinking about exiting the consumer business.
  • In April, Apotheker sent a memo to execs warning of a tough third quarter. Somebody leaked it to the press, blasting the stock and forcing HP to suddenly move its earnings call ahead a day.
  • In August, Bloomberg broke the news that HP was considering spinning off its PC business and buying enterprise software company Autonomy. HP confirmed the news with a surprise press release, in which it also dropped the bomb about its WebOS business and disclosed earnings. This time, HP didn’t even warn investors it was moving its earnings release up — it just threw a press release out a half hour before the (very precise) scheduled time of 4:05 ET. Then HP put out a second official release — in which it confirmed the Autonomy purchase — a little later.

Apotheker may be making the right decisions for HP’s long-term future — concentrating on the enterprise is probably a good move, given how it’s been growing while the PC business has been tanking.

But the leaks, two consecutive earnings announcement flails, and whiplash strategy changes make it look like HP is rudderless and panicky. No wonder directors are talking about making a move.

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