HP should have never hired Leo Apotheker to be CEO. The only reason he ended up in the top slot for just 11 months was because nobody else wanted the job, and HP’s board is a complete and utter disaster.
James Stewart at The New York Times has an excellent column on how HP’s board backed into hiring Apotheker. It’s worth reading in its entirety, but if you want the short version, here it is.
When HP decided to can Mark Hurd, the board was split. Joel Hyatt of Hyatt Legal Plans and John Joyce, formerly of a PE Group wanted Hurd to stay. At least long enough to find a successor. They were so adamant about it, “that It became difficult to conduct business in a civil manner,” said one board member to Stewart.
Ultimately, those guys lost, obviously. Hurd was canned. The board appointed Lawrence Babbio, John Hammergren, Marc Andreessen and Joel Hyatt to look for a new CEO, says Stewart. They struggled to find anyone that would take the job, but eventually narrowed it down to three candidates. An internal HP choice, Scott McNealy of Sun, and Leo Apotheker.
Before he was fired, Hurd said he didn’t think anyone at HP was up for being CEO, so the internal candidate was scratched. McNealy was seen as too outspoken, and not all that great, so he was scratched.
That left Apotheker, who nobody really knew.
Amazingly, the board didn’t bother to get to know Apotheker before hiring him. None of the eight other board members bothered to interview Apotheker. One source told Stewart, “We were just too exhausted from all the infighting.” So, they just hired the guy.
When HP’s earnings went south, and Apotheker decided to spin off the hardware business, the board finally took notice and sprung into action, tossing him in favour of Meg Whitman.
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