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David Packard Writes HP Epitaph 440

ewhac writes "David W. Packard, son of HP's co-founder of the same name, obviously has some strong feelings on the merger between HP and Compaq. Today he shared those feelings on a poster put up in the lobby at the Stanford Theatre. The text of his message appears below. David W. Packard is president of The Stanford Theatre Foundation, a non-profit organization formed in the 1980's to save the classic Stanford Theatre in Palo Alto, CA, from destruction. He is also the son of HP co-founder David Packard, and has been very close to the company and The HP Way."

ewhac continues: "Today, he shared his thoughts on the merger in the form of a poster placed in the Stanford Theatre lobby:

Hewlett Packard
1938 -- 2002
R.I.P.

The Stanford Theatre still exists today only because of the employees of the Hewlett Packard Company. Without their achievements over the years, there would have been no foundation to purchase and restore this theatre.

Palo Alto might have had one more book store, or perhaps another restaurant. Architects had plans ready for a new "Casablanca Cafe" at this location when the Packard Foundation rescued the theater in 1987.

The Hewlett Packard Company was founded in 1938 in a garage on Addison Street only a few blocks from where you are now standing. Back then, the Stanford Theatre was showing brand new movies. In 1938 you could have seen Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn in Bringing Up Baby and Holiday . You could have seen Errol Flynn in The Adventures of Robin Hood . You could have seen Alice Faye, Don Ameche, Ethel Merman, and Tyrone Power in Alexander's Ragtime Band . You could have seen Jimmy Stewart and Jean Arthur in Frank Capra's You Can't Take It With You . You still can see these same movies at the Stanford Theatre. Our audiences know that they are truly timeless.

The HP Way also touched many people's lives. Most of us expected that it would last forever -- that it would prove as timeless as a Frank Capra movie. But those entrusted with the duty to safeguard it have exercised their legal right to make another choice. Dura lex, sed lex. The law is harsh, but it is the law.

HP employees are now on a new ship, being taken on a new voyage. The company has even changed its stock symbol to HPQ to stress that the "old" HP is gone. For the sake of the surviving employees, of course I hope for a good outcome. But it is hard to imagine that their leaders can invent something better than what they left behind.

David W. Packard
The Stanford Theatre Foundation.

"The San Jose Mercury News also has a short article about Packard's message.

"Editorial Content: HP's road to the merger has been the subject of much lunchtime controversy out here. As one of the "founders" of Silicon Valley, Hewlett Packard has for decades been a highly respected institution who earned their reputation through solid engineering and research, and by creating a legendary workplace envied the world over.

"Especially in the Valley, people within and without HP came to feel as David Packard did; that The HP Way would survive management fads and fickle stockholders, and serve as a lasting example of How To Do It Right. But HP's current management has won the right to move onward; to where, no one is sure.

"Though the company is still there, the HP mythos and The HP Way seem to be gone. All anyone can do now is watch and see what happens next."

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David Packard Writes HP Epitaph

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 09, 2002 @01:09PM (#3491509)
    They spammed me yesterday and told me so.
  • by Chagatai ( 524580 ) on Thursday May 09, 2002 @01:09PM (#3491513) Homepage
    For a good time, call Carly Fiorina at 800-HPQ-SUCKS.

  • Oh boohoo (Score:2, Insightful)

    by K. ( 10774 )
    If I didn't shed a tear for DEC, I'm hardly likely to do so for HP.
    • I did (Score:3, Interesting)

      by wiredog ( 43288 )
      I liked vaxes. And vms. If DEC had avoided the merger then the Alpha might have gone somewhere.
      • DEC had gone into corporate senility I think. They had been selling off bits and pieces of themself long before the hostile takeover. Networking was sold to Cabletron, most of thier big software packages were sold off to smaller developers.

        By the time Compaq bought them there was very little of the original DEC left; probably just VMS and the Alpha technology.

        I felt like swinging past DEC offices to see if management had put up garage sale signs, but I think CPQ beat me to it.
    • You realize, of course, that HP *is* DEC. Compaq acquired DEC, and HP has now merged with Compaq. There's some Tandem bloat in there too, along with some lesser seasonings.
  • Quite tasteful (Score:5, Insightful)

    by huckda ( 398277 ) on Thursday May 09, 2002 @01:13PM (#3491549) Journal
    David Packard illustrated, imho, The HP Way.
    By tastefully posting a brief of his position and doing so without mud-slinging. Props to Junior.
  • As is usual in our society today criticism is heaped upon another manuever. I'll be the first to admit that the merger of HP and Compaq doesn't look like it will garner huge profits.

    The loss of the "HP Way" could very well be a sad thing. The problem is, what way did HP have? Walter Hewlett, the staunchest foe, admitted that while he didn't approve of the merger he didn't have an alternative to offer in its stead.

    Constructive dialogs must offer more than mere criticism. Alternatives need to be brought forward when the status quo isn't working.
    • by Telastyn ( 206146 ) on Thursday May 09, 2002 @01:25PM (#3491638)
      Since when wasn't the status quo not working? HP certainly wasn't dominating the marketplace, but they surely weren't in trouble. The merger with Compaq does nothing to help that situation.

      They brought in $48.8 billion in 2000 (from their site). Why must people be so greedy as to risk a good thing?
      • Because the senior management needs to justify, and enlarge, their salaries. $1.6 million + $4.8 million in bonuses each year, plus 6 million options just isn't enough to support two people in silicon valley.
      • by M-G ( 44998 ) on Thursday May 09, 2002 @02:01PM (#3491923)
        Exactly. The main purpose of the merger was to get Compaq's services division so they could try to compete with IBM. This is purely a Wall Street play to keep making their revenues increase.

        The idea of doing something well and steadily sticking with it aren't honored on Wall Street. You have to constantly grow. Sure, HP was playing in the Intel PC and server game, but it wasn't a strength. HP's single most important market was printers. HP could dump everything else and just sell printers, and they'd be a profitable company. But instead, they have to 'grow', which means spending lots of money on a merger and giving thousands of employees their walking papers.
        • > HP's single most important market was printers.

          That, and the zillions of medical instrumentation, data acquisition, etc. products that they sold off as Agilent.
        • It's not sufficient to "maintain the status quo" if you're a stock on Wall Street and you want your stock price to go up (and that _is_ why people buy and hold stocks like HP.)

          Shareholders are taking a _risk_ when they choose to invest their money in a company like HP, rather than say in bonds. For that risk they expect a commensurate growth rate, not the status quo. If they wanted the status quo, they'd invest in T-Bills.

          Not only that, but some of the biggest individual shareholders are the executives, so they don't just feel this as a secondary responsibility. It's how they're compensated, and that compensation structure rewards growth, not maintaining the status quo. Which is appropriate, given that's what the shareholders want.

          That doesn't mean they have to be jerks, or cut people. But let's not lose sight of the fact that these companies are grown using shareholder dollars, and that if they failed to keep trying to grow, those dollars would not be available.

          (Yes, you can hold a stock just for the dividends. But those stocks are generally priced much lower, because there is no expectation of the capital itself growing.)
      • Not that I agree or disagree (I'm not sure what I think about it), but the premise that HP seems to have been working under was that the computing market wasn't really a growth market anymore - but there were opportunities at the high end and in the services business. In a market like that, the products themselves are commodities so the bigger companies crush the smaller ones with better economy of scale. The PC market of 1992 supported a lot more healthy vendors than the market of 2002 does.

        And I think HP's goal was to get bigger, so they figured Compaq was the best available target.

        Given the growth slowdown in the PC biz, I suspect that they wouldn't have spun Agilent (AKA the real HP) out if they were making the decision today. Back when they did the spinout, Agilent's product lines were still growing and profitable, but growing way slower than the HP computer business was. Their logic at the time was that the Agilent slower growth rate was holding back HP's "true value", so the spinout was designed to goose HP's stock price.

        Of course, then the computer market went in the crapper, thus creating the premise in my first paragraph that created the Compaq merger...
      • > They brought in $48.8 billion in 2000 (from their site). Why must people be so greedy as to risk a good thing?

        The space race, the arms race, the merger race. Companies go through with this because the business mantra of the day is "Go Big or Go Home". We've already pretty much seen the complete demise of the independant retailer, etc. Companies are terrified that if they dont get huge, their rivals will, and make lunch meat out of them.

        Its a joke tho. We saw what happened to AOL/TW .. these companies merge because they're scared shitless that they will lose their place in the public conciousness for lack of the resources that come along with being a multinational. it's not always about the money; and if it were, remember that all wealth is relative so greed is often symply a symptom of being scared to be left worse off than your perceived peer group.
    • by jamesmartinluther ( 267743 ) on Thursday May 09, 2002 @01:41PM (#3491775) Homepage
      What "alternative" did HP need? Couldn't it continue making a profit by offering various computing hardware and services? Why did it have to suddenly double in size? Was it doing so bad being merely gigantic?

      I am very angered about the poor treatment of Mr. Hewlett by the HP executives. It was not a dialog from the way I see it - it was the tail wagging the dog.

      Many corporate leaders have have a cavalier attitude toward their shareholders and board members, a big mistake because board members see things on a higer strategic level, and, simply put, shareholders are the owners. If it is shareholders who own these gigantic contraptions, why is it that officers keep doing things against their interests?

      There is a very big disconnect in corporate governance, and it is up to shareholders to become more educated in business matters and assert the power that they have. Hewlett is a hero for trying to assert this power, and he almost won.

      The fact that he lost is not nearly as important as the fact that he fought in the name of rational and fiscally conservate shareholders.
    • by Spinality ( 214521 ) on Thursday May 09, 2002 @01:43PM (#3491787) Homepage
      Walter Hewlett, the staunchest foe, admitted that while he didn't approve of the merger he didn't have an alternative to offer in its stead.

      As a director and stockholder, it wasn't his job to provide an alternative -- that's what company management is for. His duty was to be sure management did a good job, on behalf of the company's owners. He said 'this is not a good plan' and explained why. He outlined alternative high-level strategies to consider; but he also (correctly) pointed out that he shouldn't try to step into management's role by crafting detailed plans. He took criticism for this, but he was 100% right.

      HP's management systematically and laboriously dismantled the company's greatest strengths, and ultimately tossed the wreckage out the door. This was done in the belief that something was fundamentally wrong with HP that needed to be fixed, and that the fixing required a total reinvention of the business. Well, they won their point. The final nail in the coffin was the Compaq merger. We'll see if they can deliver on their promises.

      But my interest is now academic: During this process, we sold all our family's HP stock, accumulated through options and employee stock purchases over 70 years. Many a tear was shed.
      • by tri44id ( 576891 ) on Thursday May 09, 2002 @03:35PM (#3492514)
        "HP's management systematically and laboriously dismantled the company's greatest strengths, and ultimately tossed the wreckage out the door. This was done in the belief that something was fundamentally wrong with HP that needed to be fixed, and that the fixing required a total reinvention of the business."

        When Fiorina was brought in, there were no less than 83 autonomous business units, which according to the HP Way, had the perfect right to refuse to coordinate with any other unit any more than they would coordinate with any external company. And because of the precious lifetime employment commitment, managers didn't have to answer to customers, either. If any company was begging to be dismantled, it was this one.

        Now with Compaq, most of the gaps in the product lines are filled in. A stockholder can only hope that the new Compaq management can break down the internal barriers and make everything work together. A seamless set of products from handheld through mainframe is an awesome vision that no other hardware company can currently match -- not even IBM.

        • by Spinality ( 214521 ) on Thursday May 09, 2002 @07:18PM (#3493837) Homepage
          HP's decentralized, entrepreneurial structure was a key strength, not a weakness. It's easy to portray it as chaotic and inefficient, which indeed it could be; but in that randomness, radical new lines of business could emerge and flourish. Could and did. HP would NEVER have entered the printer business, for example, if the company had been carefully organized as "a seamless set of products from handheld to mainframe" oscilloscopes. The little fiefdoms drove folks crazy, but they produced results.

          Top-down businesses can be effective for a while, but they rarely innovate. It's a good model for a bank or a steel mill, not an R&D organization. You may feel that HP's "managers didn't have to answer to customers"; but if you talked to old HP customers, you'd find that's what HP managers did. By and large, customers loved their level of access to the labs, to the engineers, and to the middle managers who kept things going. The customers didn't drive this change, except perhaps customers like CompUSA and Best Buy, a very different story.

          This is not to say that things couldn't have been improved, of course, especially through the roller-coaster of the 90's. But the picture of HP that you and Carly Fiorina draw looks nothing like the HP I remember.

          My view is that the quick growth of the PC business during the 90's tech boom created unrealistic expectations in HP's executives, stockholders, and directors. Remember, they viewed Agilent's traditional businesses as useless old-tech baggage, to be discarded! "We don't want that junk weighing down our E-business rocket! If it can't produce 30% margins, who cares about it?" The thing that broke at HP was not corporate culture, but strategic vision. Strategic vision was lost. Strategic vision isn't a belief that everybody should march in the same direction, choreographed by the CEO. Strategic vision, for a giant organization, is conceiving and fostering a stable, evolving work environment where customers are served, problems get solved, and innovations get made over the long haul.

          Well, this stuff is pointless. It's all been thrashed out here a thousand times. And the fat lady has finished singing. Now we just wait to see the reviews. I don't expect too much.
    • by Malor ( 3658 ) on Thursday May 09, 2002 @02:13PM (#3492023) Journal
      The alternative was not to buy Compaq.

      HP has always prospered by moving into new product lines as their old ones became commoditized. By remaining a technology leader and treating their people with the highest respect, they were able to innovate steadily into new, high-profit product lines, without suffering too badly as they lost revenue from their older product lines. They were, in essence, built around obsoleting themselves, and hiring the best possible people to do so.

      PCs are now a commodity. In years prior, HP would simply have exited gracefully from the PC business. Instead, they are buying a hugely unprofitable company to combine with their own unprofitable PC operations, in the hope that this will somehow make them money.

      In other words, HP is moving into the commodity business; they are leaving behind excellence and embracing mediocrity.

      Fiorina is destroying many lifetimes' worth of sweat, blood, and tears, apparently to further her own career. Instead of doing what is best for HP -- hunkering down and innovating their way out of the current technology slump, as they have done so many times before -- she is doubling the size of the company she runs to improve her resume.

      And it's not going to work; HP is built around being excellent. Excellence is expensive. Their processes and treatment of employees won't survive a low-profit-margin environment. They are abandoning what they are best at, and trying to play Dell's game... without the enormous experience Dell has at doing so.

      Good job, Carly... in a few years, we'll all be able to look back and see how you destroyed one of the finest tech companies on the planet, put thousands of high-paid employees out of work, and made millions in doing so. The shareholders may be a trifle unhappy, but you'll be laughing all the way to the bank.

      (I'm not affiliated in any way with HP, but have friends who work there.)
  • interesting (Score:2, Interesting)

    by tps12 ( 105590 )
    I noticed lex, sed lex: anyone care to enlighten me on the Latin origins of these and other common Unix utilities?

    IAC, I'm not surprised he is sad to see HP go. Fuck, we are all sad. But there is some good to be found.

    Remember our mutual enemy: Microsoft. And the enemy of our enemy is also our friend, in this case. In other words, Microsoft is a huge company. Only by creating a company huge enough to battle it (Linux is too small right now, but maybe they will get bought by HPaq!) may we triumph. It is the American Way.

    HP and Compaq have already gotten themselves behind the Linux movement. Linus himself even suggested once that perhaps Linux should change its name to ComPHux, IIRC. This is great news for every true geek out there, and a Good Thing (tm).

    • Possibly.

      But all it will take is one judge to let Microsoft off the hook for them to once again be bulletproof. If Microsoft says to what is now the world's largest PC manufacturer "drop Linux or we'll triple your Windows licensing fees", how long do you think our enemy's enemy will be our friend?

      It will be at least two and a half more years before the Justice Department will have the balls to stand up to MS. Until then, they're still one gavel-strike away from absolute power.
    • Re:interesting (Score:3, Informative)

      by Jonathunder ( 105885 )
      "Dura lex sed lex" -- an old legal maxim meaning the law is hard but it is the law.
    • sed is an abbreviation for 'streaming editor', a coincidence. lex is short for 'lexical analyzer generator', for which lexical is rooted in latin, but not related here.
    • sed -- stream editor
      lex -- lexical analyzer
    • Linux is too small right now, but maybe they will get bought by HPaq!

      Curious, exactly what would you be purchasing to get Linux? Short of Linus' soul, one cannot simply go out and buy to own Linux whole. It is possible to purchase or develop a distriubtion of Linux, but not the whole shebang.

      What would, perhaps, be interesting is to see HPQ purchase a Linux distro like RedHat, and leverage it to boost Linux, but given recent history that is not a guaranteed success for either Linux OR HPQ.

      Just my $0.02.

    • Linus himself even suggested once that perhaps Linux should change its name to ComPHux...
      Uh, ComPHux??? I shudder to think how that would be pronounced...
  • Carly thinks that since they lucked-out with the laser printer that they are now a consumer products company. I am annoyed with the attempeted separtion from the core values of a test equipment manufacturer with the Agilent spinoff, how many millions were wasted on ads on sporting events for the Agilent brand, a total and complete waste of money. I used to respect HP as a company of smart people, but no more
    • Good point here.

      To me as well Agilent is the *real* HP. Remember, it all started back in '38 when Bill and Dave designed their first little gadget which was definitely neither a computer nor a printer. It was an RF Oscillator - test and measurement equipment.

      The other thing that strikes me is the parallel to DEC: DEC used to be a great company as long as Ken Olsen was around. After he left the place things went down pretty fast. Same with HP.

  • Sans links (Score:4, Insightful)

    by maggard ( 5579 ) <michael@michaelmaggard.com> on Thursday May 09, 2002 @01:15PM (#3491567) Homepage Journal
    I strongly doubt these were posted on a lobby card with URLS embedded; nor does reposting the message with them gratuitously inserted add anything to the material.

    This is particularly inappropriate considering the other current thread on news editing & munging.

    Aside from that I'm glad to see Mr. Packard sharing his feelings. Did he need to use another means? No, this one was apparently quite effective.

    • ?

      Are they links to something irrelevant or offensive or biased?
      Was anyone forcing you to click the links?

      The readers in the lobby were obviously expected to know the people and the movies mentioned. The wider Slashdot audience will probably have heard of few or none of the actors or films.
      What's wrong with supplying context unobtrusively? I moused over the links to confirm my suspicion they were IMDB links, but I didn't feel the need to follow them.

      Links to background information from a respected publically available source looks to me like: No harm done.


    • strongly doubt these were posted on a lobby card with URLS embedded; nor does reposting the message with them gratuitously inserted add anything to the material.
      This is particularly inappropriate considering the other current thread on news editing & munging


      Nonsense. Those links are completely appropriate. My Perl books weren't originally imprinted with hyperlinks, but the fact that my cd versions of them are is a godsend. The whole point of hyperlinking is to be able to follow a side path through links and come back to the original content a little more knowledgeable. Why should someone who's interested in, say one of the movies have to go to google and search for a topic, when it's much easier, convenient, and meanigful to embed the links directly into the original content.

      • Nonsense. Those links are completely appropriate. My Perl books weren't originally imprinted with hyperlinks...
        Your Perl books weren't presented as quoting somone. Furthermore your links doubtless delved futher into the topic at hand; the IMDB entries for these films aren't salient to the point Packard was trying to make.

        • Thanks - you spoke well!

          I found the "visual" link annoying.

          It detracted from the reading. Bad enough that we loose the "visual" of the origional, but now have to suffer additional annoying things.

          Perhaps we ought to replace choice visuals on that next chick or guy pick with URL's to explain what they're all about.

          =Poster=
          Sorry, perhaps you meant well, but I'm sure that many of us would disagree.

          Just some food for thought - do we really need to be fed mush all the time. A quick google search would have turned up the references quickly in any case for those that needed or wanted them.

          Thanks for the article, hold the links please!

          Cheers!
    • Re:Sans links (Score:4, Interesting)

      by ewhac ( 5844 ) on Thursday May 09, 2002 @02:19PM (#3492072) Homepage Journal

      I strongly doubt these were posted on a lobby card with URLS embedded; nor does reposting the message with them gratuitously inserted add anything to the material.

      Possibly not; it was an indulgence on my part. While it may not have added anything to the material, I don't think it detracted from it, either.

      There are a lot of twenty-somethings and younger who read Slashdot, who may have never even heard of Don Ameche, Ethel Merman, Edward Everett Horton, or even Cary Grant (whose closest still-living analog might be Sean Connery), all of them great entertainers.

      It also gives Packard's message some historical context. In January of the same year, Benny Goodman had his triumphant jazz concert at Carnegie Hall [bbc.co.uk]. On 30 October, Orson Welles plunged the nation into panic with his famous War of The Worlds broadcast [museumofhoaxes.com] . And just a few days later, Kristallnacht [mtsu.edu] took place, widely regarded as the beginning of the Jewish Holocaust.

      So, no, I don't think adding the links was necessarily a bad thing. Of course, as the story's submitter, I'm biased... :-)

      Schwab

  • Interesting (Score:3, Informative)

    by colmore ( 56499 ) on Thursday May 09, 2002 @01:17PM (#3491577) Journal
    I think we forget that these companies are groups of people.

    He's not saying anything about HP's products or technology, his business is a movie theater and his concerns lie elsewhere. He's lamenting the passing of an organization founded by his father, not a line of consumer and business electronics.

    It's kind of like my highschool. It certainly wan't a great place, and won't be winning any awards for education. But I miss being there with my friends.
  • When you think about how it must feel to watch your family legacy so completely turned on its head, I am shocked that, given that he would make a public statement at all, that this one was quite restrained. Typically if someone is going to cross that line and get invovled, there tends to be a lot of emotional momentum. I suspect this is why, during the Compaq/DEC merger, there wasn't much talk at all outside business issues. It is a shame to see that the concept of family business has taken another hit, but Packard is obviously a mature adult, something that we're not exposed to often enough. [troll] Think about other vocal members of the tech community? Does anyone really consider Stallman a muture adult?[/troll]
  • David Packard confirms: HP is dying

    ; - P

  • How HP got started (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Target Drone ( 546651 ) on Thursday May 09, 2002 @01:23PM (#3491627)
    Silicon Valley Daily [svdaily.com] has a short summary [svdaily.com] of HP including what their first product was and a picture of the garage where it all got started.
  • In the current climate in the US, producing goods and services are becoming incidental part of the operations compared to branding. Naomi Klein's book No Logo [http] describes this trend... "This formula, needless to say, has proved enormously profitable, and its success has companies competing in a race toward weightlessness: whoever owns the least, has the fewest employees on the payroll and produces the most powerful images, as opposed to products, wins the race."
  • by dr_db ( 202135 ) on Thursday May 09, 2002 @01:42PM (#3491779)
    ...of the HP way.

    HP was simply not a company of printers and cheap consumer computers. Or at least, at one time, it was not. I am going to have to buy an extra calculator - they had amazing calculators, once you figured out how to use RPN. MY friend fell one day and broke the display on his 28S, and they gave him a new one. gratis!

    They had amazing test intruments. The nicest ocilliscopes were HP. Sure, techtronix has some nice models, but the HP digital scopes kicked ass.

    The laser printers were rock fucking solid. I have suffered through brother, samsung, toshiba, etc. I *never* had an HP printer give me trouble. Even the deskjets were not bad - for all those people out there who moan about them, what would they replace them with? Epson? Nice printer, as long as you use it constantly.

    I was never fond of the computers, but in fairness, I have yet to meet a consumer machine that I like.

    So it's not just the loss of a consumer computer company, although I know sometimes people at /. forget there is a world outside that - it was a company with alot of great products, and one division of the company basically took over and eviscerated the rest.

    • HP killed off their calculator development division a while back. I believe that was another Carly move.

      It's kind of depressing -- Carly gets all sorts of recognition because she's the only female CEO of any major tech company...but she's an awful CEO.
    • On the bright side of things, though, a lot of the testing equipment was taken over by Agilent when they split. Hopefully, if HP stops producing quality 80grand test equipment, Agilent will fill that gap. The thing that upsets me the most though, was that they simply dropped the calculator division!!! Their calculator division was profitable, and had excellent market penetration. What the heck were they thinking??!?

  • by scottennis ( 225462 ) on Thursday May 09, 2002 @01:48PM (#3491822) Homepage


    David Packard, using his superior brain power cunningly embedded a repeating hidden message in his poster (five times).

    Using a complex mathematical formula, similar to the one used in the Bible Code, David has the last laugh.

    I have decoded it here for you:

    Hewlett Packard

    1938 -- 2002

    R.I.P.

    The Stanford Theatre still exists today only because of the employees of the Hewlett Packard Company. Without their achievements over the years, there would have been no foundation to purchase and restore this theatre.

    Palo Alto might have had one more book store, or perhaps another restaurant. Architects had plans ready for a new "Casablanca Cafe" at this location when the Packard Foundation rescued the theater in 1987.

    The Hewlett Packard Company was founded in 1938 in a garage on Addison Street only a few blocks from where you are now standing. Back then, the Stanford Theatre was showing brand new movies. In 1938 you could have seen Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn in Bringing Up Baby and Holiday. You could have seen Errol Flynn in The Adventures of Robin Hood . You could have seen Alice Faye, Don Ameche, Ethel Merman, and Tyrone Power in Alexander's Ragtime Band . You could have seen Jimmy Stewart and Jean Arthur in Frank Capra's You Can't Take It With You . You still can see these same movies at the Stanford Theatre. Our audiences know that they are truly timeless.

    The HP Way also touched many people's lives. Most of us expected that it would last forever -- that it would prove as timeless as a Frank Capra movie. But those entrusted with the duty to safeguard it have exercised their legal right to make another choice. Dura lex, sed lex. The law is harsh, but it is the law.

    HP employees are now on a new ship, being taken on a new voyage. The company has even changed its stock symbol to HPQ to stress that the "old" HP is gone. For the sake of the surviving employees, of course I hope for a good outcome. But it is hard to imagine that their leaders can invent something better than what they left behind.

    David W. Packard

    The Stanford Theatre Foundation.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      For those don't want to bother...

      "bite me carly bite me carly bite me carly bite me carly bite me carly"

      I thought the joke would be funnier than that, actually. Here's hoping I saved you some time.
  • by dmorin ( 25609 ) <dmorin@@@gmail...com> on Thursday May 09, 2002 @01:54PM (#3491863) Homepage Journal
    Did he really put a bunch of URL's to imdb into his poster? NEAT. :)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 09, 2002 @02:01PM (#3491928)
    Well as someone whose family has been involved with the company for many decades, one who spent many summers working various positions in the company and finally someone who joined the company after university I can say that the company I longed to work for and loved to visit dad at was not what I expected in 2000. I left after less than a year, I wanted to be a geek in THE geek company, however, all Carly wanted was sales and marketing. Salesperson does well, give him/her a fancy car for a year, geek solves customer problem in days that has plaqued them for months, tell him it didn't matter cause the sales guy said it should only take a day.

    I would love to go back to the old HP, I suspect Carly will be gone before the end of 2003, all she wanted out of the merger was her massive bonus and raise and to layoff the 15,000 employees who best understood what the HP way was. She will do this and more and find that her synergies will never quite add up to what she hoped and by 2005 hp will look like it did a year ago.

    Sad what a BOD/EC and CEO can do to a company, HP sent me dozens of proxies to vote on the merger, but I have yet to receive a proxy of the March Vote on the BOD. This time next year, we can welcome Walter and hopefully a few other intelligent folks to the board and get back on track.
  • by marhar ( 66825 ) on Thursday May 09, 2002 @02:06PM (#3491970) Homepage
    This story told by an engineering director pretty much sums up the HP way:


    "I had just started at HP. At my old company, I had a reserved parking spot near the door. One day I arrived late and was a bit miffed that I had to walk in from the far edge of the parking lot. Until I looked up and saw David Packard walking in from two rows further out."


    Many of the good, progressive things we have cherished about the hi-tech world, such as its egalitarianism, informality, and respect for doing the right thing came directly from these two men.
  • Why do people bother trying to 'reinvent' themselves when they are already making a profit and will likely continue to do so in that fashion for as long as the eye can see?

    HP closed their Calculator Research lab, yet it was making them a profit with each new model of calculator released. Yah really smart that one, closing a PROFITABLE part of your business.

    The lady who is now in charge of HP, it says her mission goal is to "Make HP into a innovative internet company."

    Uh WTF??

    Internet companies suck, period. You make a printer you sell a printer and you have yourself a profit. Guarn-friggin-teed.

    Hell I think that this is one case where some CONSERVATIVE management could actually have came in handy.

    Imagine the PHB's conversation for awhile if you will;

    PHB-1: Are we making any money?

    PHB-2: Yah tons of it.

    PHB-1: Ok, lets keep on doing what we are doing and make even more money!

    Compared to what seems to have actually happened;

    PHB-1: Are we making money?

    PHB-2: Yah tons of it.

    PHB-1: Ok then lets completely restructure the company go through a big merger close down our operations assloads of profitable sectors and go with something completely new and untested!

    And people wonder why I have such disdain for business majors. . . . .
    • Why do people bother trying to 'reinvent' themselves when they are already making a profit and will likely continue to do so in that fashion for as long as the eye can see?

      The Register reckons it was the fault of Sircam. Carly got infected and the worm sent along an e-mail to Michael Capellas with the subject "Hi! How are you? I sent you this file in order to have your advice" and attached was a file with the name HP_Strategy.DOC :)

      I fell off my chair laughing, but it seems almost plausible given the alternatives...
  • The HP Way, as I understand it was to give the employees of the company a free hand in deciding what products needed to be developed, and what parts were needed for those products. From the equipment they initially built and sold to the Walt Disney company, through their decision to let "The Woz" take his computer design with him as he left the company, they showed an interest in those products that they believed would be profitable, and letting engineers have a free hand to do what they wished, including leaving for greener pastures.

    While I am not sure that the new company will exhibit the same "Way", I do not see anything preventing new startups from using this method of operations.

    As I understand it, parts of this "Way" have been used in other companies. There has been much talk of the "Apple Way" which encourages people to try new things.

    We may never see another large company that works the way HP did. If so, I think the world will be a poorer place. On the other hand, as companies are looking into more and more Open Source projects, I suspect that the philosophy of Open Source will propigate into other parts of corporate operations.

    Then again, I could be wrong.

    -Rusty
  • Well well (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Mongoose ( 8480 ) on Thursday May 09, 2002 @02:23PM (#3492111) Homepage
    I think the roadmap looks fine, since a lot of the HP desktop/mobile lines were crap compared to compaq. Look at the numbers -- people perfer the compaq lines -- and that's why a lot of the HP divisions are going to be trimmed.

    I only buy compaq notebooks lately, since they're easy to fix/upgrade/maintain if you get the right line. HP laptops? I never considered... I've tried half a dozen other OEMs for PC laptops, but never HP. It seems looking at the sells figures I wasn't alone.

    As for backend systems and consumer desktops it's not even close, Compaq is #1 b/c of their branding and deals with PoVs like rat shack. HP should've made better products at better price points. BTW I only use IBM for my workstations, sorry guys. I wouldn't mind a nice Proliant however if we weren't locked into Dell at work.

    I'm sorry Packard, but even Carly is right sometimes.
    • HP laptops? I never considered... I've tried half a dozen other OEMs for PC laptops, but never HP. It seems looking at the sells figures I wasn't alone.

      I can't speak toward HP's more recent offerings, but the HP Omnibook 800CT I own is easily one of the most wonderful things I've ever had the privilege of owning. Sure, it's dog slow (166MHz Pentium) compared to more recent laptops, but it'll be a long time before I part with it.

      It's no one thing, but a bunch of small details that made me fall in love with the thing:

      • Built-in SCSI (being a SCSI bigot with lots of old drives, this was a nice plus),
      • Perfect "heft": not too heavy, not too thin or fragile (I'm always afraid I'm going to snap those ultra-thin Sony VAIOs in half),
      • Static RAM and a FET in the hard drive power line means you can leave the machine in Standby mode for a month before the battery needs recharging,
      • Honest-to-$(GOD) "Instant-On" feature (from Standby mode, press the power button; it's on now),
      • The hinge (actually a clutch) on the display stays where you leave it; the display doesn't spring or flex back when you let it go.

      The machine isn't perfect -- the keyboard is sticky, the display could be higher-res, and the BIOS "hiccups" occasionally -- but the number of things HP did right make it so gosh-darned nice that I'll probably still be holding on to it ten years from now.

      I had the privilege of meeting one of the designers of the machine. He says it was the last such machine HP designed in-house. Everything after that was farmed out to OEMs. Too bad; a machine like this with a modern CPU and display would rock.

      Schwab

  • Original HP (Score:2, Interesting)

    Well, from a historical point of view HP was a test and measurement company. They expanded into the clone market, but what they were respected for was still the test equipment.

    The real HP became Agilent a couple years ago. I heard that when preparing for the split HP determined that the PC portion of the business would not survive a name change (which means all they had to offer in competition was name recognition).

    HP is alive and well and out of reach of Carly, it's just known as Agilent now.

    (And no I don't work for HP, I work for a competitor.)

    • Re:Original HP (Score:3, Informative)

      by Guy Harris ( 3803 )
      Well, from a historical point of view HP was a test and measurement company. They expanded into the clone market,

      Umm, if by "clone market" you mean the market of selling "IBM-compatible PC's", you left out a small step there, i.e. the step where they got into the computer business before there was a "clone market" (heck, before there were "IBM-compatible PC's").

      They had a line of 16-bit minicomputers dating back to the 1960's, and other lines of computers such as the HP 3000's, the original 68K-based UNIX boxes, and the PA-RISC boxes (running both UNIX and the MPE OS from the HP 3000's; they used, as I remember, binary-to-binary translation to allow both native 32-bit PA-RISC code and the old stack-based 16-bit HP 3000 code to run on the PA-RISC 3000's).

  • HP employees (not the company) helped save the Stanford theatre. Stanford theatre good. HP employees did good things. "HP Way" good is somehow inferred from that.

    HP merged with Compaq and changed the symbol. The old HP Way did good things. I don't think the HPQ way will be good because the HP way was.


    WTF? That made no sense at all. If HP employees did good things, presumably that should not change at all with the same employees working for pretty much the same company with a different stock symbol.

    This will probably get modded down as a troll by those who disagree - oh well, I'm karma capped anyway.

    Regardless of your opinion of whether the merger is a good thing or not, this letter is nothing but FUD. He spends a lot of time talking about how the Stanford theater is great and how great the old days were but completely fails to connect that to the merger or the name change being bad.
  • by diabolus_in_america ( 159981 ) on Thursday May 09, 2002 @03:41PM (#3492548) Journal
    The reasons for the merger are pretty evident, if one looks closely at the leadership of both Compaq and HP. Both Cappellas and the now-infamous Fiorina would've been gone within a year from their respective positions, with nasty blackmarks on their resumes. No more multi-million dollar bonuses for them. No more being Wall Street darlings. These two who so easily and soullessly talk of tens of thousands of job cuts couldn't stand to possibility of being out on their keisters.

    So... two struggling companies with ineffective, clueless CEO's come to the only decision that'll keep them in a position of power for another year or so..


    "Hey, Mike... let's combine our companies!"
    "Great, Carly! What do you think our bonuses will be next year?"
    "Why, whatever we say they will be, darling! Hahahahah!"


    The deal was masqueraded in bunches of buzzwords and double-speak. They claimed it would allow them to leverage all sorts of synergies for their customers. Of course, they never told their customers exactly how the joining of two alike companies would be beneficial. We were just suppose to trust Carly and Mike that it would. They even tried to coax Wall Street's blessing by saying that the merger would allow them to (gasp!) compete with IBM and its Global Services Division! Goodness knows that was so very re-assuring to the thousands of HP customers who were left in the dark for months and who were lied to about the e3000 line of servers.


    "Don't worry about them cutting out the 3000 line!"
    "Why?"
    "Carly says HP can now compete with IBM!!"
    "We're saved!"


    So now, Compaq and HP shift from the HP Way to something more akin to the Woolworth Way, which goes something like this: let's sell as much crap as we can, as quickly as we can, before we go under!

    There have been a lot of Slashdotters comment negatively about David Packard's eulogy for the HP Way. I've seen numerous comments that say it's just a company, not a religion and other such rubbish. But for tens of thousands of HP employees, the HP Way was as much a part of their lives as religion. It gave them a sense of belonging, a sense of security and a sense of honor, all at the same time.

    This week, one man and one woman have succeeded in absolutely destroying the lives of tens of thousands of people, all in the name of corporate profits and non-sensical words like "synergy."

    Take a minute to respect that and to think about that, because a very unique and wonderful chapter in American business history was just closed.

  • by man_ls ( 248470 ) on Thursday May 09, 2002 @04:42PM (#3492915)
    I have to say I was moderately touched...he doe seem right, a lot of the direction and focus isn't apparent any more since the merger. It's sad to see one of the founders of the computer industry being destroyed or changed beyond recognition.
  • by doom ( 14564 ) <doom@kzsu.stanford.edu> on Thursday May 09, 2002 @04:58PM (#3493041) Homepage Journal
    I just thought I throw in a bit of praise for what David Packard has done with the Stanford Theater. It's now the place to go to see classic hollywood movies in their natural environment... it's also one of the few improvements I can think of that took place in Palo Alto during the ten years that I lived there; the place was (and is) hemorrhaging what little character it had at a tremendous rate.

    (It's actually a serious criticism I've got of market forces these days: far from being an engine of diversity, they seem to be driving the United States toward a rather boring and bland monoculture. I look at changes in Palo Alto, and I can think of a dozen bad losses, and one gain, and that's the result of a non-profit organization...)

    But anyway, if you happen to be hanging on the Bay Area peninsula for any reason, definitely check out the Stanford Theater on University Ave. With any luck, you may get to see Edward Everett Horton and/or Eric Blore.

    (One complaint though: David Packard is a little too tasteful for my tastes. Silicon Valley needs more bad SF movies. I want to see a Roger Corman festival. )

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