Since I have already outted myself has a former HP employee, I guess it’s safe for me to comment on the resignation of HP CEO Mark Hurd.
First off, let me acknowledge that I was laid off under Hurd’s watch. This hardly makes me unique, I actually have a lot of company there. However, I can’t tell you how much company I have because Hp long ago stopped announcing lay-offs and coming clean with the stock holders and the public as to how many people they were shedding. Oh sure, they would occasionally announce a few lay-offs here and there, mostly after they acquired another company, but I can tell you from personal experience that they have laid off far more people than they have ever announced. How a publicly held company can get away with that lie of omission, I’ll never know.
Hurd was the darling of Wall Street because he was a cost cutter. By cost cutter, we mean he laid off thousands of peopl, and off-shored every job he could, despite the fact that HP was making obscene profits. His “cost cutting” made Wall Street very, very happy, and the board of directors, happy that Wall Street was happy, rewarded Mark richly. He is reportedly getting a $28 million pay out on his way out the door. That’s not a golden parachute, that’s a platinum, diamond encrusted one. No word on whether or not they are Blood Diamonds, but I do have my suspicions.
Oh, did I mention that Mark slashed severance packages for laid off employees during his tenure? Guess that doesn’t extend to the top. Wonder how much severance a lower level employee who got caught lying on their expense reports so they could travel with their little cuddle-bunny would have gotten? Yeah, we know the answer to that one. Training in the Standards of Business Conduct was a yearly requirement for HP employees, I guess someone didn’t get the memo, despite the fact he wrote it.
HP used to be one of the great companies. Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard built a Fortune 50 company on the HP Way, one of the cornerstones was treating the employees like the a valuable commodity, rather that interchangeable parts made in India and China. HP fumbled when it moved away from the HP Way under Carly (Epic Fail) Fiorina. Wall Street claimed that Hurd got the company back on track, but he ignored the HP Way as well. Since HP was no longer the desirable place to work, HP was unable to hire the best and the brightest, and thus HP’s ability to innovate and invent was severely compromised. Apple and Google get the best and the brightest now, and we know how well they are doing. That used to be HP.
So a cautionary tale for our times. The moral of the story: when looking for a CEO for a high tech company, pick the guy who stresses innovation over the guy who stresses cost-cutting.