Wednesday, February 09, 2005

What now for HP?

So Carly has gone and HP has a bunch of questions to answer. Will it truly remain one company or will it get carved up in ways that will excite the investment bankers and in the short term Wall Street? Will there be any, albeit subtle shift in strategy as people internally try and position themselves for whomever will become the new head of the business or businesses?

Forbes have published like crazy on this news today as have many other business publications. CNBC even had a special always on HP ticker. Interestingly I overheard lots of chatter on this in a coffee shop in HP's home town, Palo Alto today. Most were shocked by the news. The general feeling seemed to be that Carly had got through the truly tough period. And while HP's stock has hardly performed well under her leadership, neither it seems have any of the other major tech stocks during the same period. In other words, they can't say she's managed Wall Street any worse than anyone else has. If anything the chattering masses of Palo Alto were more concerned about how rudderless this news might make the company while the search for a new CEO went on. One guy put it well when he said: "if you were a big corporate customer weighing a deal between HP and IBM right now, you'd be a fool to go with HP. You have no idea what business they'll be in in six months."

So confusion is going to reign for some time as I gather the board's decision was only reached late yesterday. This has left HP with a stand-in CEO. I'm sure HP will perform its day to day duties just fine but customers, especially big ones, care about the future of a business and with a stand in at the helm, that is going to make a lot of people nervous for some time to come.

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