Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

HP Chairman Ray Lane Talks About PC Business Spinoff, TouchPad’s Last Hurrah

It’s becoming increasingly clear that Hewlett-Packard isn’t going to sell its PC business — formally known as its Personal Systems Group — to anyone. Instead it’s going to do what I suggested it would, and distribute the assets to shareholders, mainly because of the tax advantages: There are no taxes on distributions, but there are taxes on sales.

In fact, it’s so clear that HP Chairman Ray Lane appeared on Bloomberg West yesterday and outlined the plan: “The intention of our board has always been to spin it to our shareholders,” he told host Emily Chang. HP will spend the next four months or so studying the intricacies of a spinoff and decide whether or not to actually do it. Assuming HP decides to go forward with the spinoff, expect it to take another eight months — roughly a year from now, Lane said — to get it done.

The longer it takes, the more HP stands to be hurt. As The Wall Street Journal reported today, HP customers are putting buying decisions on hold until the company gets things back on track.

Lane also talked about the last hurrah of the HP TouchPad, which sold abysmally at Best Buy and other retailers until the price was slashed to the bone. “There’s obviously demand at a certain price point for TouchPad,” he said. Too bad that price point is one that has HP losing money on every unit sold.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik