Hewlett-Packard’s series of earnings and strategy announcements last Thursday was a communications fiasco.But at least HP knows there was a problem: the company has “reassigned” its communications head, Bill Wohl, according to a memo leaked to PRWeek and confirmed by AllThingsD.
Here’s how that day went for HP.
In the morning, Bloomberg broke the news that HP was considering spinning off its PC business and buying enterprise software company Autonomy. HP offered an official “no comment.”
Then, HP rushed out an announcement about 45 minutes before market close in which it dropped the new bombshell that it was killing the Palm hardware business, confirmed that it was in talks with Autonomy, and admitted that it was exploring options for its PC business. That release also contained HP’s earnings news — which the company had previously said it would put out at (the very precise time of) 4:05 pm ET.
The big story — HP’s shift away from consumer computing and toward enterprise software — was buried in the trickle of news.
The Palm hardware withdrawal — which was relatively minor, costing the company about $1 billion in writedowns, with upside potential from licensing WebOS or selling Palm’s patents — overshadowed the bigger news that HP was spending $10 billion on a major strategic acquisition.
The company’s stock dropped 20% when the market opened the next day.
Wohl was brought in this year to be CEO Leo Apotheker’s “voice,” but since he took over, the company’s voice has been garbled at best. He may not bear all the blame, but he was the communications head, so it makes sense for him to take the fall.