Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Hewlett-Packard's Imminent CEO Choice Needs to (And Will) Be Internal

Because this is a big CEO search in Silicon Valley, naturally the Hewlett-Packard board turned to star headhunter Jim Citrin of Spencer Stuart for help in finding the next leader for the tech giant.

He should not have to look far, since sources close to the situation said it is likely an internal candidate will be chosen over a more high-profile outsider.

The reason? As Maverick’s motto in the hit movie “Top Gun” goes: The need for speed.

As in speed at moving the focus at HP (HPQ) away from the scandal around the controversial departure of CEO Mark Hurd, his move to rival Oracle (ORCL) and the ensuing lawsuits, and back to the business of, well, business.

That would be best served by putting in place someone who knows the company well. And since the major divisions of HP are so huge that they could be considered companies unto themselves, these are very seasoned and experienced execs.

At the tippy-top of that list is Todd Bradley, who runs its Personal Systems Group and is also known as the man who bought Palm, the smartphone maker, which he once ran. (He is pictured above, headed for work on the 101.)

While making Palm’s technology a success for HP is a big risk, the move shows a nice proclivity for boldness. In addition, he is well known and well liked in Silicon Valley, even though he always deftly sidles away from BoomTown whenever I approach (which is, to be honest, also a very good instinct).

Also on the very short list, although much less mentioned than Bradley: Vyomesh Joshi, who runs HP’s giant printer business.

One minus: Joshi–an incredibly affable man known as VJ–has also been a longtime director on the worser-board-than-HP at Yahoo (YHOO). So, in my mind, he’d have some–in the immortal words of Ricky Ricardo–’splaining to do.

And while Ann Livermore, who runs the enterprise business, has been mentioned many times in the past for a bigger role at HP, she remains, most sources say, a longshot. Here it’s kind of like that old Oscar cliché–being nominated is the real honor.

Of course, there are plenty of outsiders who are certainly solid selections and some wilder ideas the board could consider–my pick would be Google (GOOG) President of Global Sales Operations and Business Development Nikesh Arora or Juniper (JNPR) CEO Kevin Johnson.

But it’s clear an internal candidate would settle the waters sooner than later.

And, despite internal rivalry, it would also prevent an exodus of these execs, which is the last thing HP needs right now.

Until a selection is made, here is the video of that scene from “Top Gun” to get everyone pumped:

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Nobody was excited about paying top dollar for a movie about WikiLeaks. A film about the origins of Pets.com would have done better.

— Gitesh Pandya of BoxOfficeGuru.com comments on the dreadful opening weekend box office numbers for “The Fifth Estate.”