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The revolving door spins at HP

Jeff Tyler Sep 22, 2011
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Bob Moon: HP is supposed to stand for Hewlett-Packard. But it might as well be short for “hot pink,” which is the color of those little slips HP’s board of directors keeps handing out to chief executives.

The high-tech giant just fired its third CEO in a row, and this afternoon, it handed the reins to the former head of eBay, Meg Whitman. Years ago, HP chose a single word — “invent” — as its slogan. But as Marketplace’s Jeff Tyler reports, it’s been struggling lately to re-invent itself.


Jeff Tyler: Hewlett-Packard is the world’s largest technology company. Among other things, it sells printers and computers. But high-tech analyst Gary Arlen says HP’s business model is changing.

Gary Arlen: HP has given signals that it’s going to get out of the personal computer business. And it’s sort of a signal overall that the PC business is nearing the end of its lifespan as we knew it.

Arlen says HP is following in the footsteps of IBM, which went from making computers to providing computing services. Arlen says HP faces big obstacles.

Arlen: Does a company that has been hardware-oriented for its entire existence have the resources, the internal capabilities, the staffing to be a services company?

Morningstar analyst Michael Holt believes Hewlett-Packard has what it takes. The problem, he says, has been a lack of leadership. Meg Whitman will be the company’s fourth CEO in the past six years. Outgoing CEO Leo Apotheker lasted less than a year. On his watch, the stock lost nearly half its value. Holt says investors have given up on HP.

Michael Holt: They’ve lost confidence in the company. And what I mean by that is, they don’t have a sense for where HP is trying to go. And every time HP sets a goal, they miss it or change it. So there’s no credibility left.

As eBay’s CEO, Whitman built the company into a powerhouse. The question now is whether she can take HP — a former powerhouse — and restore it.

I’m Jeff Tyler for Marketplace.

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