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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.


Still think CEO pay is too high?
By autoboy on 9/21/11, Rating: 0
RE: Still think CEO pay is too high?
By Joz on 9/21/2011 5:20:48 PM , Rating: 3
The bad ones don't need another job.


RE: Still think CEO pay is too high?
By fic2 on 9/21/2011 5:31:09 PM , Rating: 5
Yes, but he, and other CEOs, will get huge payouts whether they raise or lower the stock value. They play a "heads I win, tails you lose" game.

HP's board is to blame for this guy. He was only the CEO of SAP for less than a year and look what kind of damage he did to that company.

I want to know where he is going to end up next so I can short the h3ll out of that stock.


RE: Still think CEO pay is too high?
By retrospooty on 9/21/2011 6:04:01 PM , Rating: 5
"I want to know where he is going to end up next so I can short the h3ll out of that stock"

RIM seems to like bad leadership... Maybe he can go there =)


By lightfoot on 9/21/2011 6:06:27 PM , Rating: 5
I also hear that the CEO of Apple recently stepped down... They might be hiring.


RE: Still think CEO pay is too high?
By AssBall on 9/21/2011 6:30:30 PM , Rating: 3
Our government seems to like bad leadership... Maybe he can run for senate.


RE: Still think CEO pay is too high?
By FITCamaro on 9/22/11, Rating: 0
By AssBall on 9/22/2011 6:21:20 PM , Rating: 2
With the two party system completely broken, I'd argue that point.

Bankers, polititians, and lobbiests elect leaders, not people.


His buyout
By DrApop on 9/21/2011 3:36:19 PM , Rating: 3
He has worked for a total of 21 months for 2 companies as CEO. I am wondering what his buyout was at both SAP and HP.

I know I'd be willing to be CEO at both companies for the same period of time and take a lot less in salary as well as a much lower severance settlement. That in and of itself would be helpful to both companies....save them a lot of money (and probably set me up for the rest of my life to boot!)




RE: His buyout
By spread on 9/21/2011 3:45:08 PM , Rating: 5
Yes but if you want to work at HP you must run a previous company into the ground due to incompetence.

I'm sorry, but you're overqualified for the position.


A few weeks from now....
By nafhan on 9/21/2011 3:57:48 PM , Rating: 2
Oracle hires a new VP! Seriously, though, this guys not friends with Larry Ellison, is he?




RE: A few weeks from now....
By suryad on 9/21/2011 4:11:30 PM , Rating: 3
I believe that it was Larry Ellison himself who had mentioned that HP was making a big mistake when they were firing Mark Hurd. There is no way Larry would pick up someone who works for SAP considering they are pretty much competitors in the enterprise market.


Multiple Personality Disorder
By The Insolent One on 9/21/2011 6:56:39 PM , Rating: 2
HP needs to figure out who they want to be.

Do they want to be in a high margin industry like software and services with lower revenues? Or do they want to be in a market like PCs with high revenue and low profit margins?

With the margins from hardware being reported as 5% or less, it's not a horrible idea to move up-market. However, there are going to be a lot of ruffled feathers along the way.

Since PCs are a commodity market, it's most efficient to leave that type of product for those that can produce at the lowest cost.

I'm no fan of Apotheker, but he's trying to move HP away from the past by going to software & services. That's where the margins are... if you have a product to sell.

The big problem for HP is that they're not known for software & services so they have a lot of building to do to get there.

I know one thing...Meg Whitman does not belong there. She did a horrible job at eBay, but it seems a lot of people have a short memory.

This will be a fun one to watch. Who can look away from a trainwreck?




RE: Multiple Personality Disorder
By Taft12 on 9/22/2011 3:22:38 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The big problem for HP is that they're not known for software & services so they have a lot of building to do to get there.


What? They are already one of the biggest enterprise vendors on the planet. ProCurve, HPUX, Proliant, ... Does any of ring a bell?

They bought EDS for $13 billion!

Pay attention people!


The HP board should hire Carol Bartz next
By Sylar on 9/22/2011 2:07:03 PM , Rating: 2
for the lols




By johnsmith9875 on 9/22/2011 3:25:44 PM , Rating: 2
They can always hire Gil Amelio, look at what a fantastic job he did at Apple.


It must be nice
By SiliconJon on 9/22/2011 9:24:59 AM , Rating: 3
To be so utterly retarded, so completely incompetent, and yet make more in a year than I will in a lifetime.

I want to be a retarded executive when I grow up, mommy.




This is necessary
By Flunk on 9/21/2011 3:31:37 PM , Rating: 2
HP needs to do this ASAP if they want to be in business 5 years from now.




Apotheker to Whitman
By 3dayscondor on 9/21/2011 6:48:01 PM , Rating: 2
HP made a bad decision to hire Apotheker as CEO. He has made too many missteps early on the job. Whacking off the personal computer business is dumb.

It is an even worse decision to hire Whitman as CEO. She has no proven skill to run a big computer company. HP board is making lousy personnel decision and is going to do major damage to the company unless they get somebody competent to lead the company.




Stock is up...
By lol123 on 9/21/2011 8:08:30 PM , Rating: 2
And HPQ is up 6.72% today. Coincidence?




cool
By p05esto on 9/21/2011 9:04:56 PM , Rating: 2
i LOVE my HP TouchPad, I love the price I paid even more.... I've been buying apps like mad to vote for WebOS with my wallet. Either way it goes, my tablet is fully functional and has all the apps i'll need today and 5 years from now so it really doesn't matter to me what happens to WebOS. But I agree, fire that CEO, he seems clueless.




even 1 week is too much
By Calabros on 9/22/2011 11:20:24 AM , Rating: 2
they should do it several month ago




os
By Scootie on 9/22/2011 4:29:19 PM , Rating: 2
My best hopes go out to webos so they revive it sooner then later.




"A politician stumbles over himself... Then they pick it out. They edit it. He runs the clip, and then he makes a funny face, and the whole audience has a Pavlovian response." -- Joe Scarborough on John Stewart over Jim Cramer














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