Innovative chief departs to gain freedom from "corporate restrictions" in pursuing new endeavors

Slowly and surely those at Hewlett-Packard Comp. (HPQ) who were involved in pushing webOS on the world have been vanishing at HP [1][2]. The exodus has been onging ever since the company announced plans to kill the struggling -- but, to its fans, much beloved -- mobile operating system.  

The latest casualty is the company Chief Technology Officer, Phil McKinney.  

Mr. McKinney was brought to the firm during the six-year tenure of former CEO Carly Fiorina.  Under Fiorina -- and later Mark Hurd -- Mr. McKinney flourished.  He was a constant source of creativity, pushing HP's newly acquired Voodoo unit to come up with some exotic gaming PC designs including the striking Blackbird and Firebird desktops and the Envy 133 laptop.

He also dreamed up intriguing software projects, such as the Pluribus effort, which took a pair of off-the-shelf HD camcorders and used them to produce quality 3D video via some clever software.  And then there was Gabble, a would-be competitor to Google Inc.'s (GOOG) YouTube, which tried to differentiate itself by making it so your videos weren’t shared with the world, but were rather kept private except among those you wished to share with.

And Mr. McKinney was fond of touchscreen projects, most of which are yet to go on sale in the U.S.  His efforts included the Vantage TouchWall (which HP showed off in concept form last year) and the DreamScreen, a slick Linux touchscreen desktop, which actually saw release (Dec. 2010) -- but only in India.

Phil McKinney
Phil McKinney [Source: DJEvents on Flickr]

And then of course there was webOS.  Mr. McKinney had a soft spot for the slick multi-tasking multi-touch operating system, which HP acquired near the end of Mark Hurd's reign at CEO.  The CTO worked with a team to create a slick Twitter app -- Twynergy -- which was a webOS exclusive.


It's unclear from his departure note whether Mr. McKinney was dissatisfied with HP, was pressured to leave, or simply (as he says) wanted to pursue new and different avenues.

He writes:

My time at HP started out as an advisor on innovation that turned into a request to join for a year or so to "help grow the innovation culture at HP".  That was 9 years ago.  I can honestly say that I've done everything that is within my power to fulfill that objective.
I’m also excited that once again, I will be able to take on board seats, advisory roles and mentoring opportunities since I will no longer have to worry about conflict of interest and other corporate restrictions.

Mr. McKinney will depart at the end of the year and take with him another bit of what defined webOS's brief life at HP.

Source: Phil McKinney

"Let's face it, we're not changing the world. We're building a product that helps people buy more crap - and watch porn." -- Seagate CEO Bill Watkins
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