Apotheker out, Whitman and Lane in at HP

It's official: Léo Apotheker has been shown the door at HP after just a year at the top, with the company looking to ex-eBayer Meg Whitman to lead it forward as it attempts a reinvention away from consumer products and towards high-margin enterprise software.

The fact that Apotheker was on the way out was no secret: details leaked yesterday that former eBay boss Whitman was in line to replace him, at least in an interim role. Interestingly, however, Apotheker describes his departure as a 'resignation' - which is certainly not what we're hearing from those close to the company.

"This afternoon, HP issued a press release announcing my resignation as president and CEO," Apotheker told staff in a final email to all employees. Describing Whitman - who has been a member of HP's board for the past eight months - as a "technology visionary with a proven track record of execution," Apotheker assured staff that HP was in safe hands.

"Meg will be supported by a broad and deep management team, and I have the utmost confidence that HP will succeed in executing its strategic evolution," Apotheker claimed. Thanking staff for their dedication, Apotheker added that "it has been a tremendous honour and a pleasure to work with you here at HP."

Apotheker's 'I-was-not-pushed-I-jumped' missive was immediately followed by a joint all-staff email from newly appointed chief executive Whitman and executive chairman Ray Lane, promising that HP has an assured future even as it haemorrhages money.

"First let us say that we are true believers in the future of HP," wrote Whitman. "We have always had enormous respect for HP and its well-earned iconic status as one of the most important technology companies in the world.

"We believe in HP’s strategy," Whitman claimed in the internal email, "and we are confident that together, with renewed focus and energy, we will deliver on our priorities for our stockholders, customers and other stakeholders. We believe we all understand that we have a lot of hard work ahead of us," she added in warning to those who had hoped a change of boss would mean a clearer strategy.

"A top priority for us will be to refocus the energy of the organisation on our mission and on the performance necessary to accomplish it," Whitman added. "We need you to be the ambassadors of HP and work both collaboratively and effectively to usher HP into the future. To reach that goal, we need your best work and a focus on execution."

Whitman's appointment doesn't appear to have done much to reassure investors as to HP's future: analysts have been near-universal in their derision at the move, describing HP as a company in 'disarray,' while its share price has dropped nearly five per cent on the news, wiping out the gains it made in trading on Wednesday.

With confusion mounting over HP's plans to spin off its personal computer business in order to better focus on enterprise products, and its continued desire to produce and distribute cut-price TouchPad tablets on which it makes a massive loss, Whitman looks to have a tough time ahead of her to get the company back on track.

The two emails can be read in full over on page two.

TO: All HP Employees
FROM: Léo Apotheker

Dear HP Employees:

This afternoon, HP issued a press release announcing my resignation as president and CEO, positions I have held with great honor this past year. Meg Whitman will assume the role of president and CEO.

As you know, Meg is a technology visionary with a proven track record of execution and has served HP well as a member of the board for the past eight months. Meg will be supported by a broad and deep management team, and I have the utmost confidence that HP will succeed in executing its strategic evolution.

On a personal level, I cannot begin to express the admiration I have for all of you – and what you have accomplished together. Over the past year, we were tasked with developing a strategic vision for HP and I know we have made important contributions to the company’s future.

Your efforts on behalf of HP and your dedication to our customers have inspired me – and I am confident that HP has a bright future because of the talented people that come to work here every day. Thank you for your commitment to HP and for your dedication in serving HP’s customers and partners. It has been a tremendous honor and a pleasure to work with you here at HP.

Sincerely,

Léo Apotheker

TO: All HP Employees
FROM: Meg Whitman and Ray Lane

We are writing today as the new CEO and executive chairman of HP.

First let us say that we are true believers in the future of HP. We have always had enormous respect for HP and its well-earned iconic status as one of the most important technology companies in the world. We look forward to working with you as we take HP to the next level.

As you may have seen in the press release we issued earlier today, Léo Apotheker has stepped down as president, chief executive officer and resigned as a director of the company. We very much appreciate Léo’s efforts and his service to HP since his appointment last year.

In addition, Ray Lane has been appointed executive chairman of the board of directors. This means that Ray will play a more active role in guiding the company. To ensure good governance practices, HP also intends to appoint a lead independent director soon.

We know that change is difficult. The decision to change the leadership of HP is one the board took seriously. We assure you that it was a difficult decision – and one that was made after careful and thoughtful deliberation – but one the board believes is absolutely necessary for the success of the company.

HP is a leading technology company with a real purpose and the ability to positively impact the way the world works. We all recognize that the technology landscape is changing rapidly and we have to do more than simply adapt. We must invest in innovation, leverage the strength of our core businesses, enhance our software capabilities and integrate our assets to maximize the value of our investments. We believe in HP’s strategy, and we are confident that together, with renewed focus and energy, we will deliver on our priorities for our stockholders, customers and other stakeholders.

Our hallways are filled with the industry’s brightest and most talented people. We believe we all understand that we have a lot of hard work ahead of us. Each and every one of you contributes to our success. The board wants to continue proving to our customers, partners and stockholders why HP is – and should remain – a leader in our industry.

A top priority for us will be to refocus the energy of the organization on our mission and on the performance necessary to accomplish it. We need you to be the ambassadors of HP and work both collaboratively and effectively to usher HP into the future. To reach that goal, we need your best work and a focus on execution.

We believe that HP matters. It matters to Silicon Valley, California, the United States and the world. We will maintain and build upon our proud and deep-rooted legacy. We understand the strength of this company, and we know we have the right tools and the talented people to achieve our goals and execute our strategy.

We want to hear directly from you. Good ideas come from everyone, so please send any thoughts you would like to share to employee survey. We also invite you to join Meg tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. Pacific Time as we discuss this announcement. Details for the meeting will follow shortly.

We look forward to working with all of you. Thank you for your ongoing and deep commitment to HP.

Sincerely,
Meg and Ray