Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

Former HP CEO Shifts Blame for Autonomy Deal to Chairman

apothekerD9Ever since Hewlett-Packard said it would write off $5 billion for Autonomy, the British software firm for which it paid north of $11 billion last year, a lot of blame has been cast on Léo Apotheker, the CEO who led HP at the time.

Today, for some reason, he decided to reach out to Bloomberg News with an emailed statement. The point? Apparently to remind the world that he wasn’t the only one making decisions at the time regarding the deal that ultimately cost him his job.

According to the Bloomberg report, Apotheker says that “no single CEO is ever able to make a decision on a major acquisition in isolation, particularly at a company as large as HP — and certainly not without the full support of the chairman of the board.” He then turns his guns on Chairman Ray Lane, without mentioning him by name: “The HP board, led by its chairman, met many times to review the acquisition and unanimously supported the deal, as well as the underlying strategic objective to bolster HP’s market presence in enterprise data.”

Indeed, he has a point. It’s also worth remembering that the board at the time included HP’s current CEO, Meg Whitman, who took over the job in the wake of Apotheker’s ouster less than a month after the Autonomy deal was announced.

There was more to call Apotheker’s competence into question that day — Aug. 18, 2011 — that contributed toward his stint as CEO being cut short. HP fell short on earnings, and he also launched the ill-fated effort to spin off the PC unit as a separate company, and killed the Palm handheld and tablet unit acquired only a year earlier by his predecessor Mark Hurd.

Clearly, Apotheker doesn’t like getting all the blame for the deal. Lane was certainly at the table, and lent his support for it. And, for that matter, so was Whitman.

Consider yourself reminded.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work