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Venture capitalist Marc Andreessen is one of the most powerful people in the tech world.And he’s a big fan of HP’s current CEO, Meg Whitman.
Andreessen knows Whitman well. He was one of the people who helped Whitman get her current job.
He’s been on HP’s board since 2009. (He’s also on the board of eBay, where Whitman was previously CEO, though he joined after she left the company.)
Today at the DealBook conference, Andreessen spoke briefly about Whitman, saying that HP is “incredibly big, incredibly important. Meg is the best CEO since the founders.”
That’s a loaded statement, as Andreessen well knows. The rank and file of HP revere their founders, Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard, who created the Valley’s open-door work ethic called The HP Way. Bill and Dave are held in such high regard that their side-by-side offices at HP’s headquarters in Palo Alto remain vacant as shrines to the founders to this day.
Andreessen didn’t say much about the current drama unfolding at HP, the $8.8 billion writeoff of Autonomy that the company has mostly pinned on improper bookkeeping at the software business it acquired in 2011 for $11.1 billion.
He leads the the board’s unusually powerful technology committee, which is responsible for evaluating and greenlighting acquisitions.
The revelation of alleged fraud at the software unit has led to two shareholder lawsuits already.
However, while pundits have been calling for Whitman’s head for this and other bad news under her leadership, Valley insiders say Whitman isn’t going anywhere, nor should she.
Still, some investors, employees and customers would like to see more evidence that Whitman can lead HP past these rough times.
So far, she’s been the bearer of a lot of bad news including layoffs affecting 31,000 employees, a cost-cutting process which will hang over the company for years; the dismantling of the HP Services unit—a division born of another major failed acquisition that lead HP to take an $8 billion writeoff; shrinking revenues in just about all of the company’s major lines of business; and record lows in the stock price.
(Note: Andreessen is also a small, personal investor in Business Insider.)