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HP's Dunn as Newsweek Cover Girl 198

theodp writes "In The Boss Who Spied on Her Board, Newsweek likens HP Chairwoman Pattie Dunn's attempts to escape culpability with her I-knew-nothing defense to both a head of state, who wants 'plausible deniability' while ordering an assassination plot, and to Henry II, who had the Archbishop of Canterbury removed by simply muttering 'Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest?' in front of his knights."
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HP's Dunn as Newsweek Cover Girl

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  • Nothing new here. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 10, 2006 @04:02PM (#16077116)
    Back in the 1960s a friend's dad got a job as head of an important government office. The people working for him were at the director level so the case is somewhat similar. Everyone had an intercom on their desks so they could do things like calling their secretaries in to take dictation etc. Buddy's dad found that the intercoms were wired so his predecessor could listen in to whatever was happening in any of the other offices. It wasn't an accident, they were deliberately wired the way they were. To his credit, he had them reverted to normal operation.

    Powerful people got where they are by knowing what is going on around them. There are other powerful people trying to subvert them and get their jobs. Machiavelli described the process and nothing has changed since then. They used to use spies. Now they use wiretaps.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 10, 2006 @04:07PM (#16077132)
    "The real sadness in all this is that HP started off as an icon of geekdom, "The American Way", and many other pure and virtuous themes."

    So did Google.
    So did Apple.

    Need I continue?

    It doesn't matter what you call it, the rotten stink of corruption is ubiquitous and certain to touch all our tech and media companies
    eventually. The only solution is not to build attachments or loyalties in the first place. Reject all forms of brand identification and
    have the courage to try new products and tools. When they start out with promises of "Do no evil" and "We are your friends" then sure, use their
    services and products. As soon as they make the first mistake show no mercy. Dump them, move on and tell all your freinds to avoid them too.
    It's like an unfaithful bitch, only a stupid or insecure person makes excuses for them and gives another chance. There is no room for sentimentality
    or loyalty in todays business world. HP now are just another name on the scrapheap of old "tried but failed" companies along with Sony, Apple, Google, SCO, AT&T... these companies can never mend their corrupted reputations, they are walking dead, but there are always new players and fresh blood to put your money behind.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 10, 2006 @04:13PM (#16077155)
    Something really smells about the press coverage on this. It all seems to pain Perkins as such a good, likeable, ethical person who resigned from the board. And yet, last week I saw a single quote from Dunn which stated that Perkins played a key role in starting this investigation. Curiously, I don't see this statement repeated in other press coverage. But it is extremely telling, if true.

    I'm not defending Dunn here. I'm just saying to take any of this "news" which is so glowing about Perkins with a large grain of salt. Perkins is quite powerful in Silicon Valley. And all of this just smells of his propaganda, designed to paint him in the best light possible.

  • this is just sad (Score:5, Interesting)

    by iritant ( 156271 ) <[moc.thgirmiesruocfo] [ta] [rael]> on Sunday September 10, 2006 @04:47PM (#16077267) Homepage
    Having lived in the Valley for nearly 20 year I spent most of my adult life hearing the legend of Hewlett and Packard. And these two men meant a lot to the Valley. They gave generously and their foundations continue to do so. Between the Children's Wing of the Stanford Hospital to MBARI to the vintage movie in Palo Alto to public radio, these people and their money have done quite a lot of good. HP as a company back then was a fine establishment, and while today I'm sure there are fine people there, I bet both men would be rolling in their graves.

    And so it's just sad to see their legacy trashed. I can't say why, but from the moment the board picked Carly Fiorina, things just went south. I am not an HP shareholder. I don't think I could be one until everyone on the current board was gone. If you are a shareholder, that should bother you, because I'm sure I'm not alone.

    Were I a shareholder, I would propose that not a single member of the board stand for re-election, so that after some period of time a new board would run the company.
  • Re:Wow. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mabhatter654 ( 561290 ) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @04:49PM (#16077273)
    SHE was ethical... as much as any slashdotter that gets cheated out of money. What all the slashdot hype misses is a fortune 500 board member was leaking info to the press... even after the entire board was notified of the investigation, this board member continuined to leak confidential employee reviews, and stratagy meeting results...

    We all say people like Apple should "clean their house" and stop threatening reporters and such. Well that's exactly what she did. Just like the rough slashdotter hacks to get a mailing/email address of a spammer, RIAA member, etc... It wasn't even Dunn that offically authorized it... I'm sure she just said "dig up dirt" The goal's not to bring a lawsuit against this guy, it's to get him kicked off every board he serves on! Fact of the matter is that most of the board didn't object to the investigation. The spying would have been fine for an employee alleged to do the same things.. the one resigning board member was only upset that he was not allowed to "spin" the investigation because the CEO went over the board's head because THEY weren't faithful.

    This whole thing is really blown out of proportion. It's really more of a "cheating husband" thing.... people with power, position, and money, couldn't be bothered to keep the privacy of fellow board members and employees.

  • Re:Wow. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 10, 2006 @04:51PM (#16077277)
    This is front page news because if the heads of other boards got the idea of trying this, then the best resources that reporters have (namely inside leaks) would dry up drier than the Sahara. So the media wants this to blow up in Dunn's face like it was the Hindenburg. (I intended the hot air puns.)

    In short this matters to the media, so they want it to matter to everyone else.
  • by gelfling ( 6534 ) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @06:24PM (#16077653) Homepage Journal
    The senior ranks of large corporations have been the hotbeds (literally) of skullduggery for as long as there have been power mad underlings. Bill Agee at Allied Signal in the '80's was banging his investment banker on the deal for a hostile buyout of another company. Maurice Greenberg at AIG was bribing everyone he could. Most of the heads at Wall St. firms in the last 25 years have been replaced by being arrested or threatened with lawsuits. Tyco? MCI? The great hdge fund meltdown of 2004-5?
  • by nido ( 102070 ) <.moc.oohay. .ta. .65odin.> on Sunday September 10, 2006 @06:58PM (#16077760) Homepage
    Their only drive is "usually" greed and self advancement and promotion.

    But isn't that the nature of the corporate system? The officers of the corporation are legally required to maximize profits for shareholders, right? Let's see what Google says... :)

    Hinkley explains, "Each of our fifty states has its own corporate law allowing corporations to be formed and establishing the rules for how such corporations are to operate. Each of these laws has something in common with each of the others. Each says that the only goal of corporations formed in that jurisdiction is to maximize profits for shareholders. In effect, each state does something for corporations that it does not do for its individual citizens--it dictates their purpose. This purpose, the pursuit of corporate self-interest, drives all corporate action. Every act carried out by a corporate employee can be traced back to this purpose established in the corporate law."

    Thus the courts created entities that could acquire vast resources over an indefinite life span. They could use these resources as they see fit, for the singular purpose of maximizing profits, without an accompanying set of values or principles that an individual would likely have to guide his actions. "This lack of values," Hinkley writes, "is in evidence every time a corporation makes money at the expense of the dignity of human beings, the welfare of our communities or the protection of our environment."

    - l [] (emphasis added)

    It is a group of people who usually lack the passion to drive the company for its business model.

    The successor managers usually aren't able to execute the founder's vision, and this is especially the case if the successors are not family. Didn't the Hewlett (or was it Packard?) family fight the Compaq merger? As the founders of the company, Hewlett and Packard had the influence to graft principles onto their corporation. But once their shares were dispersed at their deaths, the family lost the power (and perhaps the will) to stand up to the state mandate to maximize profits.

    Also witness the long, slow decline of General Motors [] following the parting of founder Billy Durant.

    This is, incidentally, why China is going to win. They make plans for the future based on their sense of several thousand years of history, whereas we in the west only have a couple hundred years, and anything older than two or three generations is largely forgotten.
  • by fishbowl ( 7759 ) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @08:26PM (#16078046)

    >Well said, in fact under the UCMJ a soldier MUST disobey an illegal order (aka shoot the prisoners).

    I've known former soldiers who have reported different experiences with this. Some, including an officer who had graduated from the US Military Academy, told me about drills that were more-or-less routine, where illegal orders would be given (with relatively mundane consequences) and if the cadet followed the order, he would have faile the test and would be disciplined for it.

    Others have told me that the actual situation is that you follow orders, period, without question.
    So I basically have an artillery man in one ear with one story, and a commissioned officer in the other ear, with a completely different story.

    I would expect the latter to be the more common case. The idea of refusing to follow an order certainly does not occur to the typical enlisted man, who would consider the consequences to be too severe to even entertain the notion, but then, it's not a situation the average enlisted man encounters anyway, My Lai's and Hadithas being vanishingly rare.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 10, 2006 @09:39PM (#16078232)
    Will no-one rid me of this troublesome Plame?

Our business in life is not to succeed but to continue to fail in high spirits. -- Robert Louis Stevenson