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Forbes Now Thinks Carly Saved HP 318

Justen writes "It's been nearly a year and a half since Carly Fiorina was fired as CEO and chairman at HP. Now, Forbes is saying Mark Hurd and HP today are reaping the success of the strategies she developed and decisions Carly made. 'Fiorina's demise was chalked up to bad execution of bad strategic moves, most notably the 2002 Compaq acquisition. But Hurd has always said there was nothing wrong with Fiorina's strategy. He seems to be hewing close to it. He rejiggered the org chart but said he'll keep the company together instead of breaking it up along premerger lines, as Fiorina's loudest critics suggested doing.' Forbes adds that HP's revenues, profit, and market share have held steady or improved since Hurd came aboard, but asks: 'Whose results are these? You could make a case that they are as much Fiorina's as Hurd's. The effects of strategic moves like buying Compaq stretch out over years.' So, which is it? Did Carly kill the HP way? Or did she save what was left of it?"
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Forbes Now Thinks Carly Saved HP

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  • Perhaps both? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BluhDeBluh ( 805090 ) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @09:29AM (#15682768)
    Perhaps the long-term strategies of Fiorina and the short-term management of Hurd have paid off. A joint effort...
    • Re:Perhaps both? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 08, 2006 @09:55AM (#15682854)
      Nope. Carly was killing HP, and Hurd undid some of the stupidity.

      At my previous employer, post-merger HP was our biggest customer; and you'd talk to HP Cupertino and HP Houston and be shocked at the confusion between the two divisions. We'd get answers like "uh, you don't need to talk to us (Houston) anymore because Cupertino's taking over that work" and 4 weeks later a conversation with the same person "help! we're back on again but now 4 weeks behind schedule".

      And this wasn't a one-time incident. For years post-merger, it seemed everyone was constantly expecting that if they'd stick their neck out on even the most minor issue Carly would chop it off - which lead to years of confusion and noone within HP nor their suppliers knowing what the h*ll they were doing.

      • Re:Perhaps both? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by uncoveror ( 570620 )
        Carly "The Hatchet" Fiorina [] was the worst thing that ever happened to HP. It is a wonder that they survived. Between turning the LaserJet printers from reliable workhorses to disposable junk to the disastrous Compaq merger, she broke everything she touched.
        • by Simonetta ( 207550 ) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @03:39PM (#15684197)
          HP had to pay this person tens of millions of dollars just to get her to go away. At the same time they were firing long-term dedicated employees and offering them re-hirement only as perma-temps with no benefits! This was Carly's policy. The woman is a thug and thief. Good riddance.

            Now I realize that this standard operating proceedure for America's managerial class. But it doesn't change the fact that it is insane. We had all thought that this plantation mentality didn't hold with the high-tech industry. Boy were we wrong! They wiped out the entire industries stock value and threw away the best workers like used toilet paper.

          Carly is simply the flash point of this madness. At least she wasn't assassinated like Kenneth Lay in order to keep her from talking about where all the money went and which politicians got paid off under the table.
          • by IamTheRealMike ( 537420 ) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @06:17PM (#15684760)
            At least she wasn't assassinated like Kenneth Lay

            I proudly present the worlds newest conspiracy theory. May it live long and become ever more unlikely in the telling.

            • by Anonymous Coward
              I am not the parent:

              Lay was just about to go to prison long enough that it amounted to a life sentence. I mean, *just about to go to prison*. He also did in fact know the past few administrations intimately, and probably was still sitting on a lot of juicy info. Now think on it a little, what would you do? Try to bargain your remaining juicy info to hope and get out while you are still alive? Seems reasonable? Now who in the fatcat world maybe wouldn't want that info to get out, and what sort of powers do t
          • which politicians got paid off under the table.

            If all these politicians got paid off, why didn't they rescue him?

            Back when Enron collapsed, The Left was saying that since W was Lay's big buddy, W do something sneaky to protect Lay. Lay even called up the Secretary of the Treasury, asking for regulatory help, to pull off the SEC "dogs". No dice.

            Lay had 5 years to cut a deal with the government, and never took it.

      • Re:Perhaps both? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Villain ( 647671 ) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @01:26PM (#15683710) Homepage

        I have one word to trash Fioina's job performance. Agilent

        On July 19, 1999: Fiorina, 44, becomes president and CEO. On June 2000 HP spins off Agilent Technologies. This is a real stroke of genius. HP since then has just become a computer company.

        Agilent has since been spinning off its chips business for 2.6 billion. Agilent also sold both the high growth Lumileds for 1 billion and the profitable Healthcare Solutions Group for 1.7 billion. Healthcare has since become one of Philips most profitable divisions. This spin off as a whole cost HP 4 to 5 billion in cash since HP could have easily made the same money splitting it up. This is really illustrative of weak and innefective Agilent leadership and the incompetence of Fiorina. HP still derives most of it's profits from printers and low margin computers and if they had medical instruments they could have expanded the business into MRI's like Philips has and which Siemens has also done. Instead Philips is carving up the best of Agilent and laughing all the way to the bank. Medical insatruments is a high margin business with fewer competitors. The Hewlett's and Packard's are both right she created a new HP that is totally dependent on computers with very little diversification. HP could have expanded into Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Computed Tomography (CT), X-ray, and ultrasound systems and radiology and general imaging.

        Fiorina is a totally incompentent executive who's only claim to fame is the Compaq acquisition. Even then without Hurd it might not have worked.

      • Re:Perhaps both? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by symbolic ( 11752 )
        I thought crap like what you've described led to a terrible morale problem within the company. Fiorina's decisions, good or bad, are only part of the equation. Running on half-empty all the time because your employees feel so disenfranchised can't be a good thing.
      • This is _Forbes_ running this piece. They had Dan Lyons who thought that SCO would win. Based on, what? Well it sure as hell wasn't research and it read suspiciously like they were reprinting SCO press releases in lieu of doing actual investigative work.

        In other words, they're trolling again because they want more people to read the insipid article. But don't worry, you're _not_ missing anything. You'll never miss anything by not reading them. They're clueless halfwits who regurgitate press releases a
    • Perhaps the long-term strategies of Fiorina and the short-term management of Hurd have paid off. A joint effort...

      I agree with your comment, but I think there is another element to it. Fiorina actually had some decent ideas, but no one in the company liked her, so the execution of her strategies suffered. Good ideas, but couldn't get the job done. Hurd is taking the pieces and putting the puzzle together, so to speak. Plus, he doesn't come across as having the arrogant "I'm better than you" attitude Fior
      • Fiorina actually had some decent ideas, but no one in the company liked her, so the execution of her strategies suffered...Hurd is taking the pieces and putting the puzzle together, so to speak.

        Plus, if Hurd's predecessor is so despised that he can fire 15,000 people and they're still bitching about her, that allows an enormous amount of room to operate.

        (I still have trouble associating the name "Hurd" with efficient development of computer technology, though...)

        • I still have trouble associating the name "Hurd" with efficient development of computer technology, though
          In 15 years, you'll still be wondering if he helped or hurt HP.
    • Perhaps the long-term strategies of Fiorina and the short-term management of Hurd have paid off. A joint effort...

      Or do you mean Fiorina did the dirty work so Hurd could take the credit?

      It takes years for the impact of a CEO/Chairperson to make a difference unless the books are cooked or the whole VP staff is replaced. In fact I am following one such company now and it is just showing improvements after 2 years and at least 1/2 of the executive staff were replaced.

      Merging companies properly is risky, HP-

      • FTFA: Her decision to drop an exclusive arrangement with Intel on server chips and align with Advanced Micro Devices proved to be extremely timely as Intel subsequently stumbled in its server line.

        Funny how they get all this "gee wow!" credit for making what was an obvious and long-overdue decision that any dumbass here on slashdot would have made on day one.

    • Wasn't Carly Fiorina the author of the long term strategy at Lucent in the late 80's early 90's. Worked real well.
  • She did great! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jjeffrey ( 558890 ) * <> on Saturday July 08, 2006 @09:32AM (#15682781) Homepage
    If you had to name the two most popular HP products, I think you'd say these:

    *HP Printers
    *DL series servers

    They are certainly the only HP products I use (at my company we use only Dell workstations). Obviously the DL servers came in with the Compaq merger - and having used a wide variety of Dell, Sun and IBM servers, I'd certainly call the HP DL360 and 380 the most engineer friendly webserver hosts going.

    Without Carly where would HPs server arm be, and would I only be talking about the printers in this post?
    • Re:She did great! (Score:2, Informative)

      by JediTrainer ( 314273 )
      I'd certainly call the HP DL360 and 380 the most engineer friendly webserver hosts going.

      Are you effing kidding me? The DL360? These completely non-redundant machines are the worst things you can use for a production server. I had four of them that I couldn't wait to get rid of - I'd have a machine go down without warning for a blown PSU or one of the fans stopping, RAID controllers gone haywire and all sorts of other hassles once every couple of months.

      The darn things can't even support their own weig
      • Re:She did great! (Score:3, Informative)

        by jjeffrey ( 558890 ) *
        I've looked after well over a hundred of them - and never known a dual PSU host go down because of a PSU failure, or a machine go down because of a single fan failure. The DL380 in particular has a redundant fan option - did you take it?

        In fact I've only ever known 2 go down, because of M/B failures.

      • Re:She did great! (Score:2, Informative)

        by sharkey ( 16670 )
        You were able to get yours mounted in a rack without it sitting on something else? On top of that, putting in a Dialogic T1 fax card disables the PS/2 keyboard on cold boots. I have to boot it, then remotely reboot it to be able to use the keyboard at the console. How great is that?
      • Re:She did great! (Score:5, Informative)

        by gr8fulnded ( 254977 ) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @10:48AM (#15683052)
        The DL360? These completely non-redundant machines are the worst things you can use for a production server.

        Sounds as though you've never had the pleasure of maintaining the DL380 (G3 and G4). I've got ~1,200 of them under my control and damn if they aren't crap; each and every last one of them. Nary a day goes by without losing a few DIMMS, disk controllers, backplanes, PSUs,... the list goes on. Our RedHat installs run fine, so it's not the OS.
  • by plasmacutter ( 901737 ) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @09:36AM (#15682791)
    Wasn't it under this woman that HP started offshoring everything they do bigtime?

    Of course firing every american you can and hiring sweatshop workers will increase your profit margins.
  • by Black-Man ( 198831 ) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @09:41AM (#15682806)
    She seemed to thrive on making enemies within the old guard management, including the family (though history will show they are a bunch of nut cases running around California forests naked et. al.), and really how much of it is her being a woman? If a man came in with her attitude, he would be hailed as a financially responsible hero who was out to "save" HP.

    That said, there are still some unanswered questions around her dealings at Lucent during the meltdown. She participated in some Worldcom/Enron type dealings while VP of sales and that has somehow been swept under the rug... probably never hear the true story on that period of history of her career.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 08, 2006 @09:42AM (#15682810)
    Carly was a nazi manager. She expected all employees to be "yes-men/woman". If you were an executive and did not agree you were out the door. If your division missed numbers you were out the door, even if it was her fault. Most of the exiled execs went to other companies to kick HP's butt. She lost all respect from the rank and file with her queen attitude and work ethic. Just the typical case of "do as I say, not as I do".
    Yes, Hurd probably does not deserve the credit. When Carly left, HP employees litteraly threw champagne parties and were motivated again to work. So I guess the credit goes to the board for finally having the guts to kick her out the door. They gave her way to many chances and they should have done it after her first year with HP. But HP has always been extremely AA sensitive and they did not want to boot the first woman CEO HP had.
    • Disclaimer: My only knowledge of HP really comes from having read a biography of the founders of the company. However, I believe HPs problems aren't too unique and symptomatic of the larger problems with corporate America.

      HP was started by a couple of engineers in a garage. They were the typical Silicon Valley success story. HP, like most technology companies, rooted their sccuess in innovation. Certainly as companies grow they tend to innovate less. Carly Florina wasn't an engineer. She probably coul
    • by jbertling1960 ( 982188 ) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @10:15AM (#15682923)
      I couldn't agree more with this post. And, as an ex-HP employee, I will add that Carly's attitude did damage at all levels. During her tenure, HP's management changed from being at least somewhat of a meritocracy to being 100% politically driven. I watched the old guard IT managers replaced by individuals who were little more than political appointees. When I left HP, none of the managers above me (all the way to the top) had any hands-on IT experience. Neither did any of their peers. My manager had a masters degree in English. She had been a copy editor before her rise to management. This individual managed the team which was responsible for handling all of HP's customer facing support content. The damage that she and others like her did and the speed at which it happened still amazes me.
    • I know I'm going to get modded down as a "sexist" for saying it, but this is hardly uncommon with women bosses. The last company I worked at hard a woman CEO, and she was an absolute NIGHTMARE to work with (as were the other two women I had worked under in the past). She was an absolute control freak, could take NO criticism, let her personal vendettas rule her hiring/firing/demoting decisions, etc.

      Fortunately, she eventually got fired. I'll never forget what a great feeling it was to see her leave on the g

      • by IamTheRealMike ( 537420 ) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @10:59AM (#15683090)
        Kinda hard to extrapolate from a sample size of two. Some companies, Google springs to mind, seem to have a lot of women at the top, yet aren't management disasters.
        • Actually, it was three. Plus, I've heard plenty of similar stories from others, all with pretty much the exact same themes.

          I'll give you an example of what it was like to work for this woman. I was tasked with writing a very important fact sheet for the company, on a fairly mundane topic but one we desperately needed to promote. I wrote it. Got it back with her red ink all over it. Rewrote it. Got it back again with just as much red ink (including her criticizing the revisions she herself had made). This w

      • my guess is that moderate women don't ever make it to the top because of things like childbirth and people are scared shitless of firing women from a male dominated profession (in just the same way people are scared shitless of making fun of islam even though they quite happilly make fun of christianity).

        so the only women you see in such positions are assholes that only stay there because the proffession is male dominated.
      • The last company I worked at hard a woman CEO, and she was an absolute NIGHTMARE to work with (as were the other two women I had worked under in the past).

        This is hardly something that can be attributed to women though. One of the most basic reasons that this happens (because you're right, research does show female managers tend to be more likely to be overbearing) is a fault of society. Women have only recently been welcomed, and in many cases are still not, into the folds of upper management. The fac

        • by ScrewMaster ( 602015 ) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @12:49PM (#15683570)
          It's that kind of reasoning that creates the monsters the GP was talking about. We need to stop excusing the bad behavior of individuals because "society did it to them" or "they had a tough life." I had a tough life, had to work damned hard these past twenty-five years to get where I am today, and I have zero desire to injure anyone just to make myself feel good. Period! I have better things to do. So far as I'm concerned, anyone that does enjoy the suffering of the people in their charge is mentally ill and should look elsewhere for employment. Look, there are reasonable standards that must be upheld in the workplace before it degenerates into a miserable experience for all. If the person in control is not capable of maintaining those standards, they should be removed from their position. I don't care what Carly Fiorina thinks, a horribly demoralized staff is not good for the company, and an organization that tolerates abusive management deserves whatever ills befall it.

          Women wanted into the workforce, they got into it, and now we should give them a free psycho-bitch pass as they rise in the corporate hierarchy? Baloney. If you're a bad manager, you're a bad manager and you should either clean up your act or expect to get your ass fired regardless of sex because your actions are damaging the company and costing it money. So what if you had to work extra hard to get where you are! If you're a woman trying to function in the male-dominated corporate environment you should expect, from day one, that it's going to cost you. It point-blank does not give you the right to abuse people! Sorry, that one doesn't fly and I don't care if you're a man or a woman, straight or homosexual, God-fearin' or atheist ... either you know how to manage people or you don't. Even sociopaths can manage others well, if they want the organization as a whole to succeed, and at some basic level understand that the people under them are what will make that happen.
          • by ppanon ( 16583 ) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @03:56PM (#15684281) Homepage Journal
            I think you missed his point. It wasn't that we should excuse females for being bad managers. It's that there are just as many (if not more) good female managers than bad, but modern corporate culture acts as a filter that usually only lets the type-A personality, over-controlling women rise to the top ranks. Therefore bad female top management isn't because all women are bad managers, it's a cultural and structural issue. There's more than a few sociopath male managers out there as well (i.e. Enron, Worldcom, Hollinger, etc.).

            P.S. I've been very happy with and impressed by nearly all the female managers in the company I work at.
            • by ScrewMaster ( 602015 ) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @04:45PM (#15684448)
              No, I think I got his point ... that bad female managers are the expected result of the management selection process currently in effect. He's probably right about that. My point is that that is not okay and blaming a manager's poor performance on society as a whole is wrong, and accepting that performance as a cost of having female management is also wrong. I quite deliberately did not single out all female managers as being defective, just that the ones that are should be treated just like their male counterparts and given the boot.
      • Just for fun... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by SlashChick ( 544252 ) * <erica @ e> on Saturday July 08, 2006 @04:36PM (#15684421) Homepage Journal
        ...let's replace every reference to "women" in your post with "black", and see how it sounds.

        "I know I'm going to get modded down as a "racist" for saying it, but this is hardly uncommon with black bosses. The last company I worked at had a black CEO, and he was an absolute NIGHTMARE to work with (as were the other two black people I had worked under in the past). He was an absolute control freak, could take NO criticism, let his personal vendettas rule his hiring/firing/demoting decisions, etc.

        And, yes, I've worked for some asshole white people in my time too. But none of them even COMPARED to the nightmare of working for the black people."

        If you had written the above post, it would get modded down to -1 so quickly it would make your head spin. Furthermore, I'd go so far as to say you wouldn't even bother writing it, because you would immediately be shunned by the people responding to your post, and it wouldn't be taken seriously.

        So how is it that you get modded as "insightful" by saying something that is obviously anecdotal, and furthermore, applies to 50.8% of the population? Something that you likely wouldn't even dare apply to the 12.8% of the population that is black. []

        I am sure there are women boses out there who are tyrants. There are male bosses out there who are tyrants. There are black, white, yellow, red, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, and God-knows-what-else bosses out there who are tyrants. The fact is that your anecdotal experiences regarding more than fifty percent of our population cannot be applied as a blanket statement.
      • I know I'm going to get modded down as a "sexist" for saying it, but this is hardly uncommon with women bosses.

        Female engineers (i.e., not "office engineers" and definitely not software "engineers") tend to do quite well in industries where one has to wear a hard hat in order to visit the field. The stereotypical wolf-whistling construction worker, pipefitter or ironworker respects these women. It's all about professionalism.
    • One discussion I had with someone is that people that sign on to be CEO that require a "buyout" of their contract to fire them is that they have a track record of successful management in that position. Carly walked away with something like four million with a company in shambles, which is an injustice to say the least. I couldn't find her track record other than having worked some for Lucent Technologies, which to me, didn't bode well for the hiring.
  • by path_man ( 610677 ) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @09:42AM (#15682811)

    Both the Enterprise Server Group at HP, responsible for HP9000 servers, and the DEC Alpha team, were completely decimated by Carly. I spent 7 years at HP, sadly 4 of which Fiorina was in charge. I have never seen such a mass exodus of top-level engineers leave a company. People with 20+ years (often more) IT and computer engineering experience, folks who had technology patents and some of the most novel thinking around computing, OS design, and engineering.

    Now, the HP9000 servers are 3rd tier behind IBM and remarkably Sun (which regained marketshare and scrapped their way back into relevance soley because Carly fucked up HP's UNIX system strategy).

    The only thing she did right was recognize the Imaging group as a cash cow and not screw with that. But that was because of total fear of the institutional investors backlashing and sending her packing (with her $MM golden parachute) sooner.

    No, Forbes, you're wrong. Carly was the WORST thing that could have happened to HP, next to the Compaq acquisition itself. HP should have bought out the DEC division from Compaq and left the low-margin, low-cost PC business altoghether.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 08, 2006 @10:00AM (#15682872)
      Carly may or may not have been good for business, but she sure hurt morale and definitely destroyed or at least sent into hibernation much of the "HP Way". People actually cheered when they heard the news that she was fired, and we're finally starting to see some of the HP Way slowly coming back now.

      Of course, Hurd's cost-cutting methods have crippled the ability of many of us to do our jobs, but at least people aren't so depressed about things like they were under Carly.
      • You draw a big distinction between 'good for business' and 'morale'. If morale is not based on business success then what is it based on?
        • by Daniel Dvorkin ( 106857 ) * on Saturday July 08, 2006 @10:57AM (#15683082) Homepage Journal
          If morale is not based on business success then what is it based on?

          Um ... being treated like a human being?

          I've worked for companies that were making money hand over fist, and treated their employees like shit, and I was miserable. I've also worked for companies that were barely making enough money to stay in business, and treated their employees well, and I was reasonably happy ("reasonably" because, of course, if the company is in real trouble, the prospect of a layoff doesn't make anyone happy.) And although it's by no means a sure thing, it does seem to me that companies which treat their employees well are more likely to get through the lean times than those which treat them like cattle, because happy employees are going to feel like they have a personal stake in the company's survival, and work harder accordingly. If your employer is the type that ends up on, OTOH, you're not going to try to do anything to help it; you will, at the least, jump ship for a better job at the first opportunity, and depending on how pissed off you are, you may do your best to screw your current employer before you go.
        • You draw a big distinction between 'good for business' and 'morale'. If morale is not based on business success then what is it based on?

          You can be in the most successful business in the world, but if your job sucks and is a constant battle against upper management then your morale is going to be in the toilet. Money don't buy happyness.
    • by meburke ( 736645 ) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @11:03AM (#15683118)

      Carly sacrificed the design and precision that HP was noted for and made the company mediocre. She acquired Compaq, which had a fairly good PC server division and some of the worst workstations in the business, and then never took advantage fo the Alpha technology that could have brought HP to the top.

      Compaq's low-end desktops were a technician's nightmare, but it wasn't always that way. In the early 90's the ASE certification was the least-bullshit, best PC technical training around. In the late 90's the ProLiant line of servers were the only things I'd buy from Compaq, because even if you were Compaq authorized, fixing the lower-end machines was too much hassle. If you weren't Compaq authorized it was almost impossible, even if you could afford it.

      For those of you who are interested, the original HP design and precision is embodied in Agilent Technologies. There you find super fine instrumentation, quality design, good morale, and good financial performance. All they need now is a good web site designer.
    • The HP 9000 (PA-RISC) and Alpha been slated for obsolescence ever since the Itanium started, before Carly got there. Maybe the strategy to consolidate high end server lines (NonStop, OpenVMS, HP/UX) was a good one, but Intel mucked up the Itanium?
    • Both the Enterprise Server Group at HP, responsible for HP9000 servers, and the DEC Alpha team, were completely decimated by Carly.

      UNIX/RISC is in severe decline, mostly due to Linux/x86, and one could argue that HP/DEC has always been "third-tier" in this market, sales-wise. Plus you have the Itanium fiasco.

      Without the purchase of Compaq Proliant, HP would be in very serious trouble in the Enterprise market. You can blame Fiorina for her management style, but you can't blame her for the trend toward commdi
  • by sielwolf ( 246764 ) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @09:58AM (#15682867) Homepage Journal
    Of course she burnt down two villages- but let's not get bogged down with nostalgia and "facts".
  • by LaughingCoder ( 914424 ) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @10:07AM (#15682900)
    I think selecting Carly was a symptom of HP's decline, not the cause of it. The company was well down the path of losing its way by the time Carly came along. Look at the history of HP to see what I mean. The original culture and values of the company instilled by Bill and Dave were all about innovation, quality, community, employees ... basically the vaunted "HP way". And this recipe worked extremely well as is evidenced by the financial performance and growth of HP over many decades, through boom times and slow times. No long term debt. Very high margins. Unparalleled customer and employee loyalty (extremely low turnover, no layoffs). Unequalled product quality. This is the company that brought us such hallmark products as the scientific handheld calculator (the venerable HP35 and its follow-ons), the logic analyzer, the inkjet printer, the laser printer, the "Pisces" emulation systems, the HPIB instrument interconnection bus (now better known as IEEE-488), 360-series PC board test stations, phased array cardiac ultrasound systems with color flow for non-invasively measuring blood flow ... the list of notable, first-in-class (as opposed to me-too), commercially successful products is indeed long. But as Bill and Dave moved into retirement the company began to evolve (devolve in my opinion). Innovation mattered less than "time to market". Quality mattered less than "cost". Employees mattered less than "efficiencies". Engineering mattered less than marketing.

    So, by the time Carly was hired as CEO of HP, they had already spun out the intruments and medical divisions - basically destroying the diversity of HP, leaving it as a computer company operating in a viscious low-margin market. They had already moved away from the concept of autonomous divisions, towards big, bureaucratic, centralized behemoths. They had already abandoned the fiscal discipline whereby all growth was self-funded and moved towards funding growth with long-term debt. And isn't it obvious that the company that was once HP is now just another computer company - nothing special. Sure, they have lots of shelf-space at CompUSA, and they move lots of boxes for a small profit. But the breakthrough, innovative products are no more. The reputation for quality is gone. I don't blame Carly, nor do I give her credit "for saving HP", since the HP I knew is long dead.
    • > Unequalled product quality. This is the company that brought us such hallmark products as the scientific handheld calculator (the venerable HP35 and its follow-ons)....

      I still use an HP 28S calculator I bought about 15 years ago to replace
      the even older HP 41C. The quality is superb.
      • No graphing calculator I have used that has come out since the 48G/GX has even come close to the 48 series. As a result, I still use a calculator that was probably on the market for 5+ years before I started using it a decade ago.
    • I agree with your take on the situation and how it had evolved at HP. I too, have worked at HP for many years. It did not take a genius to see the points that you make at HP (although it seemed that way to many). Note that there are/were *many* managers at HP that have their own agendas. It's a managerial love-fest of CYA over at HP right now. IMO, it was Carly's JOB to fix the situation and restore HP to it's status of being a leader, innovator and a highly respected company. It's a compromise of making mo
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 08, 2006 @10:08AM (#15682902)
    I had respect for HP. Their products USED to be good. Not perfect, but good and when you needed help, there was an engineer who knew that exact product inside-out and would honestly tell you what and how to solve.

    Recently I had a nasty performance problem (especially writing) with the MSA500 external RAIDs from HP (should be old compaq stuff).
    The first, second, third and forth thing I was told was that it is MY fault.
    First firmware; then configuration; then drivers; at last, they said I had to use Kernel 2.6.9 and RHEL4 because anything else is NOT supported.
    For 3 weeks I went thru all loops (they didn't exspect that) with people who would say "please try this-and-that". Quickly I would ask "Can you guarantee me, that this will help?".
    The answers ranged from "maybe" to "one can try". Further, no one seemed to know whom to talk to for e.g. the Linux drivers and if there are any issues.

    I have never spoken to more frustrating and technically inept people ever. Even upper sales people knew about my issue. After 3 weeks I was assigned a technical engineer.
    After I did ANYTHING they told me, in the afternoon the very SAME technican would admit when there were simply no excuses left: "OK, this is highly inofficial. But your numbers are not unusual."
    It turns out 1) they knew they have shitty hardware and 2) they are advised not to tell.

    That is not what I call a "saved company".
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 08, 2006 @10:18AM (#15682934)
    If she was any good she'd be the CEO of another great company instead of doing BS speaking engagements. HP survived Carly.
    • HP survived Carly

      That remains to be seen. I see HP in the same way as I see a lot of large companies that were beheaded when their founders died off or retired ... they run for a while on inertia and then crumble into dust. Or they try to "reinvent" themselves but that rarely works either. No, I think another poster was right, that HP lost "The Way" a long time ago and that Carly Fiorina was more symptomatic than causative, but you're right that if she were any good, someone else would have picked her up
  • Carly got laid off (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    She doesn't deserve any more credit for HP's success than she gave to all those she laid off.
  • by Groo Wanderer ( 180806 ) <charlie@semiac[ ] ['cur' in gap]> on Saturday July 08, 2006 @10:32AM (#15682997) Homepage
    Carly was one of the worst things to hit corporate america since Ken Lay. I watched her run HP into the ground and line her own pockets while doing it. Division doing well? They can obviously cut costs and headcount. Look, next quarter, they have higher margins, so give yourself a bonus, and repeat in Q2. Division doing badly? Cut people, and reorg. Tough decisions deserve a bonus.

    Carly was about polishing her own star, from putting herself in front of the company when there was capital to be spent, cash or political, to building a cult of personality. Ask the people shoved out of the way by her bodyguards IN THE HP HQ! Ask the people who installed an executive bathroom in her plane hanger, normal bathrooms wouldn't do there, oh no.

    Ask the HP Australia people about the world class logistics operation they built, and then completely outsourced without adequate contract provisions. Look at how much the Magellan contract cost them, and the reasons for losing it. If you want real fun, look at what the board told her before they handed her ass walking papers. Tis to laugh, no tis to feel sad for the greedy ruining the lives of the hardworking.

    Hurd, who on some levels I am no fan of, has spent the last year and change completely undoing all the things Carly did. The difference is that Carly had all the shyness and hard working mindset of Paris Hilton, while Hurd gets the job done.

    Anyone putting the sucess of HP on Carly rather than Hurd is an incompetent researcher, revisionist historian, or has an agenda. Oh wait, this is Forbes, you know, the ones who are still defending SCO. Replace the 'or' a couple of sentences ago..... Also look at the politics, this has all the hallmarks of a paid for image campaign to prep her Carlyness for a senate run. Forbes isn't shy about politics, and it would take a political strategist with long term thinking in a high place to do this. I won't name names though.

    I was privy to a lot more of HPs dirt than I wrote about, and even then, I wrote a lot. I honestly can't think of a more worthless, to the corporation, manager that had the company survive their tenure. The only reason it did was a long history of innovation (real, not MS), good people, and good product lines. Most of that is gone now, but Hurd looks to be bringing a lot of it back. It is an uphill climb, but if you look at Dell vs HP right now, it is the correct thing to do.

    The article that prompted this is several shades beyond sad, and completely ignores what Hurd has done. Do the research people, ask HP about the changes, they are real, but they are not spun for the benefit of the general audience like the old days. Then ask yourself why this would be coming out right about now, and from whom.

  • HP DL385 (Score:4, Informative)

    by Spazmania ( 174582 ) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @10:40AM (#15683019) Homepage
    I don't know who saved what but I know that the modern generation-4 HP DL385 server (which borrows heavily from both HP and Compaq technologies) kicks the spit out of every comperable machine out there. Whoever came up with the physical design is an effing genius and I'd like to shake his hand.
  • by zoomshorts ( 137587 ) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @10:53AM (#15683064)
    1) Ruined Compaq
    2) Removed faith in HP as a company. (Hello, my name is Habib, how may I assist you?)

    Did I mention the talent lost due to "right-sizing"? Sure I did.
  • Bored CEO with rather large amount of money need repair on its reputation to make a political or if it does not work philantropy career.
    Send proposal to
    all serious inquiery will be handled in total confidentiality.
  • Forbes?! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by KwKSilver ( 857599 ) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @11:14AM (#15683173)
    When did Forbes become a credible source on technology? The old Forbes was pretty good source of business info & investment ideas. Stevie-boy's rag has agendas other than helping its readership, IMHO. I won't touch it anymore.
  • We where and HPUX and SOlaris shop. Now we're a IBM/ SOLARIS shop. HP's desision to kill PA-RISC and replace it with itanium on there large "superdome" class machines. And we have orders for lots more of these expensive (high profit margine) machines in the future. This is going to cost HP millions on going and we're just one shop.

  • There was a time when the market valued innovative technology and outstanding design. That time has passed. "The HP Way" evolved in an environment where companies could sell premium products at premium prices. That environment no longer exists. If customers want low prices and are less concerned about quality, manufacturers will churn out low priced shit. When specialty businesses become commodity businesses, the high quality/high cost producers tend to get squeezed out. Carly didn't cause this shift in the
  • She was smart, well spoken, and made solid decisions for the *long run*, not knee-jerk decisions, that are typical of CEOs of public companies. She made hard decisions that will keep HP going for a long time to come. Long-term thinking is a rare comodity in an increasingly A.D.D. world. The next time someone jumps all over a CEO on Slashdot for making rash decisions driven by "what the stock market needs this week", I hope they think back to Carly's reign at HP and see the difference.
  • by walterbyrd ( 182728 ) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @11:46AM (#15683307)
    I don't know what it is with forbes, they love to suck up to big name execs, and look straight down their stuck-up noses at lowly techies. Forbes seems to absolutely despise anything F/OSS.

    IMO: forbes is a zero credibility rag for exec worshiping wannabes.
  • by pharwell ( 854602 ) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @12:28PM (#15683476) Homepage
    They probably think this post is about them.

    Oh wait, that was Carly Simon.....
  • by dpbsmith ( 263124 ) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @12:29PM (#15683481) Homepage
    Who cares? It's now a boring company that makes boring products.

    As a nerd who cares about "stuff that matters," what HP chooses to do or not do is about as interesting to me as what Whirlpool Corporation or Caterpillar, Inc. or Citicorp do.

    If I'm buying a computer, sure I'm interested in whether HP's product is marginally better or cheaper than Dell's. If I'm investing money, sure I'll pay attention to whether it's making money or losing.

    But when I'm wearing my nerd hat, nothing HP does is likely to matter very much to me. The days of engineering innovation are long over. Whether that's good or bad for the bottom line, I wouldn't know—although, looking at U. S. automakers, I'd at least suspect it's good in the short run, bad in the long run.
    • Absolutely. HP was viewed as a company who made stuff that supported think tanks. Today... mention HP and the associated phrases are "ink prices", "pedestrian junk", "walmart", and "grossly average". They've completely disavowed the $10,000 "brain" market, and are instead targeting the $10 "ipod user" market.

      From a business perspective, they might not be wrong. Is it easier to find a guy with $10,000? Or find 1000 guys with $10?

      Still, HP is dead, and has no reputation left.
    • ... what HP chooses to do or not do is about as interesting to me as what Whirlpool Corporation or Caterpillar, Inc. or Citicorp do.

      Hey! I think you're being unfair to Caterpillar here. Maybe Whirlpool, too. There's still some tech in both their products.

      Wish I could still say the same about HP.

  • "In the language of Orthanc, 'save' means 'slay' ".

    It's possible that HP had to change with a changing market and that any change would have disoriented and hurt people steeped in the old ways, but that's no excuse for "We had to destroy the village in order to save it".
  • by sethstorm ( 512897 ) * on Saturday July 08, 2006 @12:46PM (#15683549) Homepage
    Maybe you should look at who Hurd has worked for in the past [] and the legacy [] of his predecessor, Lars Nyberg. If you think Carly was bad, this guy may just bring the 1990's NCR disasters over to HP instead of bringing back the "HP Way". With the company gutted after Hurd and Nyberg, he's proven himself to have a worse reputation. He had a chance to prove himself different, but he failed in that respect up to this point.

    He is not the "blue collar" person that you think he might be. He was one of those who helped destroy that part of NCR.
  • by Jackie_Chan_Fan ( 730745 ) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @02:33PM (#15683994)
    ... No matter how much Forbes is trying to rebrand her character.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 08, 2006 @03:58PM (#15684284)
    (Posting anonymously for obvious reasons. Read on ...)

    I can't comment on Carly as a CEO since I never worked at HP. However, I can comment on Mark Hurd's past career.

    Mark took the helm at NCR after being groomed by Lars Nyberg, one of the worst CEO's NCR had in its 130+ years. Lars came to power following another (perhaps worse) CEO, Jerre Stead. Jerre was a televangelist type who was all showmanship and nothing else. He tried the motivational angle, and co-authored a book (Flight of the Buffalo) with another corporate consultant (Jim Belasco).

    This was when NCR was an AT&T company. Jerre jumped ship when the numbers were really going south, leaving the company for a year in the hands of someone from AT&T who did not care, and fled to the mother ship as soon as the trivestiture (where AT&T spun off Lucent and NCR) was announced.

    Lars was a cost cutter in the real sense of the word. He shutdown or sold much of NCR's computer division to focus on ATMs, Point of Sale and Teradata. We froze development on NCR's UNIX SVR4, and stopped making PCs, servers and pretty much anything in generic computing. Teradata has been bought by NCR when AT&T took over, and had really neat technology, albeit a niche market (decision support).

    Lars made Mark Hurd head of Teradata, after being in sales for 20+ years. We kept hearing every quarter and year: Teradata is our flagship product, Teradata will pickup, Teradata will change things, Teradata this, Teradata that ... All under Mark's leadship.

    The stock value under Lars continued to languish, and while tech companies were making money from the bubble, NCR was stagnating (we did not capitalize on our presence in banks, ...etc.)

    A few years ago, Lars was evicated by the board (remained on the board) and Mark replaced him. The word in the company from people who worked under him is that he "decided to be a rock star".

    Hurd co-authored a seemingly content-free book with his mentor Lars Nyberg. Here is a brief on the book The Value Factor: How Global Leaders Use Information for Growth and Competitive Advantage [], and here is the Amazon link []. The Register made fun of it [] because it had things in it like "information isn't aligned". The book is of course influenced by Teradata being the information store of a corporation, and how it can be analyzed and capitalized on. It must have helped advertise Teradata too.

    To his credit, NCR's stock climbed and even split under Hurd, in stark contrast with the Nyberg era. This may be due to his rock star approach and getting more media and analyst attention.

    NCR's size is about the size of HP's printer division alone. HP is too big for Mark, around 10X as big.

    So, Mark cannot take all the credit. His advent may have boosted morale in HP because Carly was much hated, but her strategies are the ones in effect today (merger with Compaq, ...etc.)

"I will make no bargains with terrorist hardware." -- Peter da Silva