Hewlett-Packard needs massive changes, and it needs them fast. But judging by her debut today as CEO, it doesn't look like Meg Whitman will deliver them. On a conference call with analysts and the media this afternoon, the former eBay CEO and failed gubernatorial candidate said she supports HP's August initiatives, including the death of the TouchPad and other WebOS hardware and a possible spin-off of the PC business.
Whitman said that a decision on the future of the company's Personal Systems Group "isn't like fine wine. It won't get better with age," and she promised to make up her mind by the end of the year, "if not sooner." But she gave no hint of what that decision will be.
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The clear message delivered by Whitman and Ray Lane, who is now executive chairman of the board of directors, was that the short reign of Léo Apotheker failed because he couldn't execute, communicate, or build a working management team. But there was no hint from either of the two top executives that Apotheker's strategy was flawed. I didn't count, but the word "communicate," as in "failed to communicate," was used over and over again, leading one to think that the problem wasn't the decisions made by Apotheker, but how he explained them -- or failed to.
HP's board chairman: We're not to blame
Lane tried hard to shift the blame for the company's problems away from HP's much-criticized board of directors, noting that eight new members, including Whitman, have joined since the beginning of the year. "This is not the board that was involved with pretexting [to spy on reporters] or the board that fired Mark Hurd," he said, later adding that the majority of the current board was not in place when Apotheker was hired.