HP is reportedly set to fire CEO Leo Apotheker, less than a year after recruiting him to replace former CEO Mark Hurd.
The New York Times citing "several people with knowledge of the board’s actions" said that former eBay boss Meg Whitman was the leading candidate to replace Apotheker.
The board hired software industry veteran Apotheker who went on to steer the IT giant away from hardware and towards software. The result was a disastrous launch of the WebOS platform which forced the company to abandon the OS altogether.
Another source cited by the FT described Apotheker as "an organ transplant that didn’t take."
Investors have been unimpressed with the high profile stumbles, including the purchase of British software outfit Autonomy at the same time the company announced the disposal of WebOS and the intention to spin-off or sell the firm’s market-leading PC business.
HP stock has falling to nearly half of the value it was when Apotheker took over.
Whitman is a ten-year veteran of eBay, during which the auction site grew from 30 employees to 15,000. The NYT report suggested that Witman’s appointment is not yet decided, however.
Another key revelation in the NYT report is the suggestion that the HP board is ‘comfortable’ with the strategy set out by Apotheker, presumably the shift to software and services and away from hardware, despite software accounting for just 2 per cent of the firm’s revenue in the last quarter.
One Apotheker-era decision may yet be overturned according to emerging reports. The disposal of the firm’s PC business, perhaps the boldest decision given the marketing leading position, is to be reviewed.
Instead the board is reportedly concerned that Apotheker lacked the ability to "communicate that strategy effectively within the company and to outsiders, especially investors."
In other words the board of HP appears to believe that the staggering loss of the firm’s market value amounts to a marketing problem. Analysts have in turned questioned the decision making prowess of the HP board themselves as they preside over the fourth CEO firing.
Forrester research founder George Conoloy delivered a blunt assessment: "This is a board on trial."
HP shares jumped nearly 7 per cent on the news of Apotheker’s potential departure.