Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Whitman Expected to Get HP CEO Nod After Markets Close (And Not for the Interim, Either)

Former eBay CEO Meg Whitman is poised to be named the new CEO of Hewlett-Packard later today after the markets are closed, said multiple sources close to the situation.

The full board of HP, which is meeting today in Silicon Valley, has not officially voted on the move and the situation could certainly change, but sources said it is nearly a done deal.

AllThingsD first reported on the CEO crisis at HP yesterday.

While there has been much speculation that the well-known Silicon Valley exec would be only an interim CEO for the troubled tech giant, several sources with knowledge of the situation said that she will be taking over leadership on a long-term basis.

At least that’s the plan — HP has had seven CEOs since 1999 and its current one, Léo Apotheker, has only been in the job for 11 months.

He will be fired, of course, with a nice, big (and appalling, considering the 47 percent drop in HP stock in his tenure) severance package as a goodbye-on-your-way-out.

As I wrote earlier today about HP’s need to act soon: “That’s more corporate marriages and exec beheadings than England’s Henry VIII!”

Whitman, who is nothing if not confident, is presumably going to try to keep her head about her, even though she faces a daunting task.

“Meg is not someone who wants to be a steward of a process to find another CEO for HP,” said one source. “She wants to run the company and be a strong leader for what she considers an important tech powerhouse.”

That makes sense, since at only 55 years old, sources said Whitman is not inclined to want to do a temporary fix-it job on a company as troubled and complex as HP.

Sources said Whitman has been contemplating taking another big exec job, after a 10-year stint at eBay, which was followed by an unsuccessful run as the Republican nominee for governor of California last year. Since then, she has been a part-time consultant at top venture firm Kleiner Perkins.

Her role there — which has largely been seen as a temporary one — has included acting as a strategic adviser to start-ups and evaluating investment opportunities. Extraordinarily wealthy from her stint at eBay, she has also been active with her family foundation.

Turning to Whitman would not be a surprise, given there are few execs in tech experienced enough to run such a large and complex organization as HP.

But Whitman will face a lot of scrutiny if she takes the job running HP, which has been rocked by sudden strategic shifts and failed forecasts as its markets have gotten increasingly competitive.

The stock has been hammered, of course, but rose sharply on the news of a change in top leadership yesterday.

HP shares are down five percent today, mostly due to the turmoil in the markets at large due to more significant global economic concerns.

Also of likely concern to investors is the fact that her experience has been in the consumer arena and not the enterprise or hardware space that HP plays most strongly in.

Interestingly, Whitman has recently hired her longtime communications consigliere Henry Gomez, who worked with her at eBay and also in her unsuccessful run for governor of California, as a consultant.

Which means, of course, the likelihood of some big news to manage.

More to come, of course, and I suppose it will soon be appropriate to extend a hearty welcome back to the tech show to Whitman (whom I’ve covered since her appointment as eBay CEO back in the day).

And, of course, to remind her: Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.


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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.”