Many were critical of the decision
to appoint Léo Apotheker, a 57 year-old German native with little consumer
retail experience and a poor business track record, to the position of chief
executive officer at Hewlett-Packard Company. Likewise, the decisions Mr.
Apotheker has made during the first few months of his tenure have done little
to silence that criticism.
Mr. Apotheker, in a recent
interview with Business Week, attacked his company's
performance under former CEO Mark Hurd. He states, "HP has lost its
soul. The first thing I wanted to do when I joined HP was listen to the people.
The rank and file usually know about all the shortcomings."
He promises to get rid of "cynics" of
his vision at HP. He states, "I’m not perfect. Temper comes with
temperament; it comes with passion. The one thing I’ve learned is to try to
manage my temper better and get rid of cynics sooner."
His vision involves sweeping changes. Among
them, he vows to look at India as a market for his company's products rather
than a source of cheap labor -- though what exactly that equates to in
production contracts and actual results remains to be seen. Perhaps even
great a change, he is discontinuing Mark
Hurd's aggressive cost cutting, replacing it with a policy of spending
extra to ensure "quality" and bring promising products to market
But perhaps no change sums up how dramatically Mr.
Apotheker is shaking up the company more so than his plans for webOS.
According to his recent interview, HP will install
webOS on every single PC it builds in 2012. WebOS is a mobile operating
system built on web-centric languages like Java, PHP, HTML, and XML. HP
acquired it when it purchased
device-maker Palm, Inc.
While this may be limited to virtual machine or
dual-boot applications on many machines, past comments by Mr. Apotheker's
executive appointees indicate that webOS
may replace Windows entirely on some machines.
Although this move does pose somewhat of a threat
to the Microsoft Windows empire on the consumer side, ostensibly it's designed
to try to jump-start the virtually dead webOS app market. Apple has over
350,000 apps, Google's Android platform has over 250,000 apps, but webOS has only
a measly 6,000 apps. States Mr. Apotheker of the decision to push webOS
on the masses, "You create a massive platform."
Aside from the unusual action with webOS, Mr.
Apotheker plans on executing major acquisitions to try to keep pace with rival
firms IBM and Oracle -- the firm his predecessor, Mr. Hurd has obtained a
major position at. Mr. Apotheker says he's especially interested in
data processing and security firms.
Analysts say Informatica Corp., BMC Software Inc.,
SAS Institute Inc., Symantec Corp. and CommVault Systems Inc. as possible
targets. Mr. Apotheker has already denied having any interest in
acquiring his struggling former employer -- business software giant SAP -- or
payroll, business relationship software firm Salesforce.com.
In an attempt to work more closely with his
American colleagues, the new CEO has bought a $7M USD mansion and is settling
down in Silicon Valley, Calif. He states, "I consider myself a
Californian now. I bought a house in California -- I can even say 'awesome' and
Mr. Apotheker complains that his predecessor Mr.
Hurd was too short sighted in cutting back on research spending and failing to
jump on the cloud-computing bandwagon. Some industry figures do approve
of his increased focus on research. States former executive co-worker at
SAP, John Schwarz, "The minute you stop investing in innovation, you start
spiraling toward your death."
But ultimately, the bottom line financially may
speak louder than Mr. Apotheker's bold vision -- analysts say HP's growth will
slow to 4 percent a year in 2011 and 2012. That's half the 8 percent a
year growth that Mr. Hurd managed. On Wall Street shares have
corresponding dropped over 8 percent since the new CEO took over.