Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

No Breakup Plan Being Considered at HP — At Least Not Right Now

no-no-noNo, HP’s board of directors is not actively studying a plan to break the company up.

That’s the word from a source familiar with the matter who directly contradicted the implication in a report from Quartz that HP’s board was “studying a breakup.”

Of course, today is the day when HP rival Dell announced a plan to sell itself to its CEO and private equity fund Silver Lake Partners. And so it’s the sort of day when anything seems believable.

HP CEO Meg Whitman has maintained consistently and unwaveringly, in an interview with AllThingsD in June and since, that the way to solve HP’s problems is not to break it up, but to keep it together. When I asked her if she saw any eventuality of spinning out or breaking up the company, she was clear:

“No. As I see it, everything stays. Each of the pieces fit together.”

Sources familiar with Whitman’s thinking on the matter and on her opinion of the present state of the company say her feelings have not shifted one bit.

That doesn’t meant that, should circumstances change, such an option would be off the table — HP did after all break off a big piece of itself in 1999, a unit called Agilent Technologies. It’s just not one that’s being actively considered by either the CEO or the board of directors right now.

The president of the United States always says that “all options are on the table” when dealing with countries that act in a difficult manner. So should the situation change dramatically, breaking HP into small pieces could at least technically be “on the table” the way that launching a nuclear attack would be in a particularly dire diplomatic case — in theory, as a last resort.

Whatever the case, HP shares moved on the speculation. After closing up 43 cents, or more than 2.5 percent, the report sent shares rising further after hours to $17.20 a share, or more than 3 percent.


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald