Meg Whitman is the new CEO of Hewlett-Packard (HPQ). Not interim chief. This is Whitman's for-real next big gig.
And it is big indeed, given that the storied Silicon Valley company has lurched from chief to chief to chief ever since the board, in 1999, eased out Lew Platt and recruited Carly Fiorina from Lucent (ALU).
H-P's board fired Fiorina in early 2005 and has had a thing about women since. In 2006 came the removal of HP board chair Pattie Dunn. Then Mark Hurd, Fiorina's CEO successor, got into trouble over his relationship with a female HP consultant. With Hurd's 2010 ouster came new chief Leo Apotheker from SAP (SAP)--and an influx of women to fill board seats and help clean up the mess.
Whitman, 55, was one of those new HP directors, fresh off her defeat in the California governor race. I hear that Whitman, who is also on the Procter & Gamble (PG) board, was key during the past couple of months as the board assessed Apotheker's poor performance. Having taken a part-time gig at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers last spring, to test her venture-capital chops, Whitman was available to step up. And ready. Fellow HP board member--and Kleiner partner--Ray Lane and another well-known VC, Marc Andreessen, apparently were critical in getting consensus among the directors.
Debate will rage about whether Whitman is right for the job. After building eBay from a startup to a Fortune 500 company, she stumbled toward the end of her CEO run.
The other question: Why would Whitman take this very difficult job? Having spent many days with Whitman (reporting Fortune cover stories about her in 2004 and 2009), I have a sense: A corporate strategist and manager to the core, she was trained at P&G and Disney (DIS) and Bain Consulting, pre-eBay, and has long loved a giant management challenge. Also, having already gotten her head around the idea of running California, she probably didn't think the H-P challenge is as daunting as other execs might.
So, now Meg Whitman is in charge of California's second-largest company--behind Chevron (CVX). And HP is, six years after Carly, once again the largest Fortune 500 company led by a woman.
Hewlett-Packard's (HPQ) announcement that it is adding three women to its board of directors is a milestone -- apparently the first instance of a company naming three women in one day.
The female trifecta includes former eBay (EBAY) CEO Meg Whitman, former Alcatel-Lucent (ALU) CEO Pat Russo and current chief of AXA Private Equity Dominique Senequier -- all of whom have been on Fortune's annual list of Most Powerful Women in MOREPatricia Sellers - Jan 21, 2011 4:28 PM ET
"I live by a code that I got taught very early in my career, that it's the company first, the employees second, and you're last. If that code gets inverted, it's not a good thing."
-- Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) CEO Mark Hurd, who appears on the cover of the new issue of Fortune, released today. Adam Lashinsky's story on Hurd is part of our "World's Most Admired Companies" package. HP came in MOREJessica Shambora, Writer-Reporter - Mar 2, 2009 6:27 PM ET
"We don't want to be on the History Channel. We want to be on the news channel."
--Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) CEO Mark Hurd in Fortune's 2006 profile by Adam Lashinsky, when asked whether he would have done the Compaq deal orchestrated by his predecessor, Carly Fiorina. Hurd replaced Fiorina, who was fired in February 2005, and moved quickly to improve execution and revive morale. HP reported earnings today, beating Wall Street's expectations MOREJessica Shambora, Writer-Reporter - Aug 19, 2008 6:09 PM ET
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