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Léo Apotheker may be fired from HP only a year after being let go from SAP AG. He only last 10 months as SAP CEO, at HP he may only last 11 months.  (Source: n-TV/DPA)

Under Mr. Apotheker's leadership HP threw out its mobile device lineup.  (Source: Joe Zeff Design)

Under his leadership HP was preparing to trash its core personal computer business as well, spinning it off to focus on business software.  (Source: AP)
HP CEO's decision to cut the company up has the Board reportedly considering a pink slip for their chief

It must seem like déjà vu all over again for embattled Hewlett-Packard Company (HPQ) CEO Léo Apotheker.  According to Bloomberg, HP's board is considering parting ways with Mr. Apotheker only 11 months after they brought the German onboard.  

I. A Troubled Past

Just over a year ago, he sat before the board at German software maker SAP AG (
ETR:SAP), who were contemplating essentially firing him from that company's CEO spot.  At SAP, Mr. Apotheker lasted only 10 months.  During that time he steered SAP into its first loss in seven years, faced backlash for failed price increase attempts during the recession, clashed with unions, and allegedly oversaw the theft of intellectual property from Oracle Corp. (ORCL) that cost SAP $1.3B USD in damages.

In the end SAP opted to move ahead with the plan to get rid of the troubled leader, declining to renew Mr. Apotheker's contract and seeking a replacement.  Mr. Apotheker was forced to resign.  Soon after he packed his bags and head to a new home in California, and a new job as CEO of the 
world's largest computer maker, HP.  

Mr. Apotheker seemed an odd fit for HP, having had virtually no consumer hardware experience -- HP's biggest business segment in terms of unit sales.  The move seemed odder still, given his recent termination from SAP and lack of familiarity with the American business market.

II. Apotheker Looks To Cut Up HP

But for better or worse HP hired Mr. Apotheker to replace the departing Mark Hurd, who despite performing brilliantly from a business standpoint had been terminated by the board for sexual harassment accusations from a former contractor.  

For the first several months of his tenure Mr. Apotheker was remarkably quiet, though he slashed sales outlooks twice between November and June.  Then in August he dropped a bombshell, revealing that he was 
killing HP's first modern tablet the company's smartphone lineup, which it purchased from Palm, Inc.  Even more dumbfounding, he announced HP's intention to spin off its core PC business, which had long driven the image and sales.

Under his plan HP would essentially become SAP 2.0, focusing on the company's higher margin server and business software business.  To assist that goal, 
HP bid $10.3B USD on British software giant Autonomy, Corp. Plc. (LON:AU).  Many experts consider that bid several times what the company was really worth, and expressed astonishment that Mr. Apotheker's new firm would overpay that much.

The wild moves plunged share prices deeply downward, to the point where they're currently 47 percent lower than when Mr. Apotheker assumed his position.  It didn't help matters that HP cut its outlook yet again.

III. Fired Again? End of the Line May be Near

For many, Mr. Apotheker's approach to restructuring HP was seeming increasingly like the old comment by the wife of the former General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, that Gorbachev went about reforms like removing rotting leaves off of a cabbage and that by the time he was done, nothing was left.

Indeed some investors were wondering what would be left if Mr. Apotheker was allowed to transform HP from a consumer products maker into a would-be competitor to Oracle and International Business Machines, Inc. (
IBM).

A former HP chairman remarked that HP was 
working to commit "corporate suicide".

Soon the shareholders had enough.  A group of shareholder 
recently filed suit against HP for Mr. Apotheker's wild moves, claiming he defrauded investors by failing to disclose his risky plans.  

The report that HP is considering Mr. Apotheker's dismissal closely files the news of that lawsuit, which was filed late last week.  Reportedly, the board is considering offering the CEO position to former eBay, Inc. (
EBAY) chief Megan Whitman on an interim, or even potentially long-term basis.

Ms. Whitman brings a decade of leadership as the CEO of the top internet auction site.  Under her leadership the company successfully went public and grew small business sales.  The company did reportedly overpay for Skype Technologies SA after getting in a bidding war with Google Inc. (
GOOG) and Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO), which led to criticism.  However, eBay did end up turning a profit on the purchase, when Microsoft Corp. (MSFTdecided to pay even more for Skype, boosting the return on eBay's remaining stake.  Otherwise the only real blemish on Ms. Whitman's record is her failure to reduce revenue declines at eBay.

Ms. Whitman has diverse executive experience, having worked at The Walt Disney Company (
DIS), Dreamworks, The Procter & Gamble Comp. (PG), and Hasbro, Inc. (HAS).  In January she joined HP's board after failing in her bid to become the governor of California.

At this point many investors simply say anyone would be better than Mr. Apotheker.  News of the potential leadership change has sent shares of HP stock soaring 9 percent today on the New York Stock Exchange.

If Mr. Apotheker departs, there's a strong possibility that he'll take with him the plans of the spinoff.  A webOS revival could even be in store, though that may be unlikely 
given recent layoffs.



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HP board
By cochy on 9/21/2011 4:02:56 PM , Rating: 5
These guys are a joke. Not only should they fire the CEO but the shareholders need to fire the board as well.

Everything bad that has happened at HP during the past 24 months is all the BOARD's fault.

Firing Hurd, hiring a guy with the wrong background and obviously not understanding what he plans to do. Firing him after a year?

Amateur hour in the boardroom.




RE: HP board
By ThisOrThat on 9/21/2011 4:37:41 PM , Rating: 5
Completely agree. Firing Hurd was just downright stupid. Hiring Léo Apotheker, just as stupid. For sure the board is a joke, a very very sad/sick joke. Really too bad, HP did have a lot going for it (at one time). RIP HP.


RE: HP board
By Reclaimer77 on 9/21/2011 5:10:00 PM , Rating: 5
I'm not even sure Hurd did all that much to earn him being fired. I was flammed into oblivion last year on here when I defended him, but hindsight being what it is, we can clearly see he shouldn't have been fired. It seemed to me that for such a minor incident he could have gotten by with a stiff fine, a public statement/apology, and than have gotten back to business as usual.

Plus, come on, she WAS a softcore porn actress for god sakes. That's like a hooker claiming she was sexually harassed...


RE: HP board
By AssBall on 9/21/2011 6:20:51 PM , Rating: 3
I don't see any reason a hooker can't claim sexual harassment :). I don't think this case was investigated very well though, and firing Hurd was a dumbass move regardless.


RE: HP board
By AstroCreep on 9/21/2011 11:04:39 PM , Rating: 2
He was fired because of misappropriation of funds and falsifying expense reports. The "Sexual Harassment" was a separate issue, but I'm sure that it didn't help him any, seeing as how both controversies hit at the same time.


RE: HP board
By FITCamaro on 9/22/2011 7:49:59 AM , Rating: 2
So you mean something nearly every US Congressman is likely guilty of?


RE: HP board
By bigboxes on 9/22/2011 10:00:37 AM , Rating: 2
Except for Republicans. They're in the bathroom stall next to you touching your feet inadvertantly. ;)


RE: HP board
By Wolfpup on 9/21/2011 5:30:12 PM , Rating: 3
They still do have a lot going for them. None of this is too late if they act fast to get rid of these jokes.

Their computer lineup's great, and number 1. That's hardly a bad place to be.

Heck, it's not too late for WebOS either. It's still technically more advanced in some ways than the competition, and they've got a lot of touchpads out there one way or the other. It's not even outside the realm of possibility that it can fight for the #1 spot...if they act NOW.

Why you hire someone who's previous job consisted of:

"During that time he steered SAP into its first loss in seven years, faced backlash for failed price increase attempts during the recession, clashed with unions, and allegedly oversaw the theft of intellectual property from Oracle Corp. (ORCL) that cost SAP $1.3B USD in damages."

Is beyond me...


RE: HP board
By retrospooty on 9/21/2011 6:00:40 PM , Rating: 2
"They still do have a lot going for them. None of this is too late if they act fast"

True... All they need to do is can the guy and announce that they arent going to follow through on any of the plan announced in the past month. Problem solved.

I really have to question a company that allowed this to happen anyhow. So lets say the CEO comes up with a boneheaded plan. Is there no-one in the company that saw how stupid this was and voiced an opinion? Or did they and were ignored by the CEO? Seems really odd to me.


RE: HP board
By Chadder007 on 9/22/2011 10:27:12 AM , Rating: 2
I really hope that is what happens. All plans of this f-tard need to be placed on hold until the new CEO comes in to evaluate everything that has been done. I'm hoping that WebOS can be salvaged still. Its too great of an OS to give up on yet and hopefully those laid off can come back to work.


RE: HP board
By DFranch on 9/21/2011 9:05:11 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
it's not too late for WebOS either

It's going to be a pretty tough sell to get developers to write apps for WebOS. WebOS's image is shot at this point.


RE: HP board
By bigboxes on 9/22/2011 10:06:04 AM , Rating: 2
How many apps DO you need? WebOS is linux based so it would be easy to port even iPhone apps.


RE: HP board
By gamerk2 on 9/22/2011 11:16:42 AM , Rating: 2
??? IOS and Macs are of BSD decent. That means UNIX, not Linux. Android apps would be easier to port.


RE: HP board
By ThisOrThat on 9/22/2011 8:18:18 AM , Rating: 2
They could still have a lot going for them, but seeing as the board is the one that's been making such poor decisions and I see no reason they won't continue, I really don't know that there is a lot of hope. Of course HP is not going anywhere fast, but given enough time and continued poor decisions by the board, it may be just a matter of time.


RE: HP board
By jhb116 on 9/22/2011 10:39:55 AM , Rating: 2
Agreed - even without that - most of us that have dealt with SAP knows it sucks. Why hire someone who managed a company that developed such a flop for a product???


RE: HP board
By Da W on 9/22/2011 8:36:51 AM , Rating: 2
How do these morons get theses kind of jobs and I can't even find a job outside of governement is beyond me!


RE: HP board
By sviola on 9/22/2011 11:23:12 AM , Rating: 2
From my experience, executive jobs are earned not by your past and skills (not that these won't help) but by who you know and are friends with. Of course, there are exceptions to this, but are few and usually restricted to empreneur-type which open their own businesses.


RE: HP board
By johnsmith9875 on 9/22/2011 3:21:04 PM , Rating: 2
Firing Hurd was the right thing to do. For once I realized that yes...executives actually do have a shred of morality, they will at least terminate an employee for grievous moral failures like spending $5000 of company money on hookers.

For awhile there I thought corporate executives could rape babies and nobody would care as long as they made money.


"When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." -- Sony BMG attorney Jennifer Pariser














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