RSS
Could Meg Whitman save Hewlett-Packard?
Rumor has it that the troubled tech corporation is sending CEO Léo Apotheker packing, and that the former eBay chief is first in line to replace him
Though Meg Whitman blew over $100 million of her own money in a failed gubernatorial bid last year, the former eBay CEO is reportedly the leading contender to become the next boss at Hewlett-Packard.
Though Meg Whitman blew over $100 million of her own money in a failed gubernatorial bid last year, the former eBay CEO is reportedly the leading contender to become the next boss at Hewlett-Packard.
Ted Soqui/Corbis
T

he Silicon Valley drama continues. First, Apple boss Steve Jobs stepped down. Then, Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz was brutally fired over the phone. Now, there are growing rumblings that Léo Apotheker, Hewlett-Packard's chief executive, could be sent packing after less than a year on the job, and that former eBay chief Meg Whitman is the leading contender to replace him. HP hasn't had an easy time in recent years; it's been plagued by a damaging phone-hacking scandal and a sexual-harassment controversy. Now, HP is in the midst of even more drastic changes, after the announcement in August that it would shut down its mobile phone and tablet operations and spin off its PC division to focus on business software. Whitman hasn't had an easy year either. After spending more than $100 million of her own money on a gubernatorial bid in California, Whitman lost to Governor Moonbeam, Jerry Brown. Could Whitman succeed at HP?

She's a viable candidate — but hardly perfect: "There are few execs in tech experienced enough to run such a large and complex organization as HP," says Kara Swisher at All Things D. Whitman is one of them. Still, her expertise is mostly limited to the consumer space. HP is predominantly a hardware company with large corporate clients. "If appointed, Whitman would need a lot of help, especially to fix [a company] with as many troubles as HP has seen of late."
"Former eBay CEO Meg Whitman being considered for HP CEO job to replace Apotheker"

And her track record isn't exactly inspiring: Whitman's tenure at eBay was mixed, say Aaron Ricadela and Carol Hymowitz at Bloomberg. In her 10 years at the auction site, she was a pioneering force in online commerce, expanding the company and taking it public. But she also made some big missteps, notably overpaying $2.6 billion for the internet phone company Skype and failing to keep revenue growth steady.
"HP board said to weigh ousting Apotheker as CEO"

Let's face it — she's a bad choice: Whitman is essentially a management consultant, and that's not what HP needs, says Therese Poletti at MarketWatch. It "needs someone with serious technology savvy who can also inspire its workers and lead the company out of its current morass." Sure, she did pilot eBay through a decade of growth, but the Skype buy was a disaster (since she failed to acquire the software code, "eBay was never able to integrate Skype into its auctions, as it had planned"). Investors should hope HP finds a better option.
"HP doesn't need Whitman as CEO"

EDITORS' PICKS

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week