HP Promotes Bill Veghte, Puts Him In Line To Be The Next CEO

Bill VeghteHP’s Chief Strategy Officer Bill Veghte

Photo: HP

Looks like Bill Veghte is being groomed for CEO Meg Whitman’s job whenever she decides to vacate it. Today the company named him COO.HP’s board promised that its next CEO would be promoted from within — which is something that many long-time employees and investors wanted to hear. But HP’s got a problem in keeping that promise … a total lack of leadership on the bench.

Veghte kinda-sorta qualifies as an HP insider. He’s only been with HP a couple of years — but that means he’s now on his third CEO. He was was hired by Mark Hurd in 2010 not long before Hurd resigned.

Veghte is best known for his 19 years at Microsoft where he led marketing and business development for the Windows business and spearheaded the launch of Windows 7. He left Microsoft in 2009 after he was passed over for a promotion. Steven Sinofsky snagged the job as president of the Windows Division and Tami Reller, who was the chief financial officer for the unit at the time, got some of Veghte’s marketing responsibilities.

At HP, Hurd tasked him with growing HP’s software business and he did.  As of HP’s 2011 fiscal year, which ends in October, he grew HP’s software business by 18 per cent. But software was, and still is, one of HP’s smallest groups, with revenue of $3.2 billion at the time. Then came Leo Apotheker and his purchase of enterprise search engine software company Autonomy.

In January of this year, Veghte was named Chief Strategy Officer and tasked with figuring out what to do with things like WebOS.

That was five months ago and the world is still waiting for a clear strategy from HP.  So far it’s been more of the same stuff that has wrecked the company — constant restructuring, layoffs, no plans for mobile beyond what Microsoft dictates, and so on.

As for WebOS, if there is a strategy it seems to be to dismantle it and retain nothing of value from the $1.2 billion purchase of Palm. WebOS is slowly becoming open source, HP laid off about half the team, and watched team leaders head to Google.  As for what HP plans to do with WebOS after it becomes open source — and HP’s bigger software strategy — Bill Veghte hasn’t said anything publicly.

Last week, HP declared that Veghte would temporarily take over the job of figuring what to do with Autonomy, too. That didn’t last long. As of today, HP found another outsider to take that over, George Kadifa from private equity firm Silver Lake.

Autonomy hasn’t been the killer software product that HP pumped it up to be, after ex-CEO Leo Apotheker inexplicably paid more than $10 billion to acquire it. Last quarter, revenue for the product declined and HP’s former Autonomy CEO Mike Lynch HP was shown the door.

Veghte’s meteoric rise to the almost top of the HP org chart is interesting — and surprising.

Don’t miss: The 7 Biggest Ways Meg Whitman Is Struggling At HP

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