Kara Swisher

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It’s Official: Meg Whitman Named HP CEO; Apotheker Out; Lane Is Exec Chairman

Done. Now what?

Meg Whitman, former eBay CEO, is the new CEO and President of Hewlett-Packard. The move, which AllThingsD previously reported would happen today after the markets closed, is a dramatic appointment for the troubled Silicon Valley Internet giant.

Ray Lane, HP’s current non-executive, will become executive chairman.

Whitman, who is a well-known executive (and who is now once again the most high-profile and powerful woman executive in tech), will replace HP’s current Léo Apotheker, who has been ousted from the top job at the company.

Whitman, who is an experienced digital exec, has a daunting task before her, as HP seeks to right itself after a series of strategic gaffes, disappointing financial results and, perhaps worst of all, a stock that has dropped 47 percent in the 11 months since Apotheker has been in charge.

The board of HP, which has had its own series of blunders in recent years, is hoping Whitman can help turn that around, especially as its competitors — such as Oracle, IBM and others — increase the pressure.

Whitman herself will need a lot of help. She has had a successful career in the consumer Internet space, but has little experience in enterprise and hardware, which are at the heart of HP’s big businesses.

Among the most immediate issues to deal with: Coming up with a clear strategic plan; reevaluating Apotheker’s move to spin off its consumer PC business and shutter its webOS device development; reassuring rattled employees and restoring morale; and, most of all, calming disgruntled shareholders and getting the stock moving in an upward direction.

Other than that, Mrs. Whitman…

Here’s the official press release from HP:

HP Names Meg Whitman President and Chief Executive Officer

Ray Lane appointed executive chairman; Léo Apotheker steps down as president, chief executive officer and director

PALO ALTO, Calif., Sept. 22, 2011

HP today announced that its board of directors has appointed Meg Whitman as president and chief executive officer.

In addition, Ray Lane has moved from non-executive chairman to executive chairman of the board of directors, and the board intends to appoint a lead independent director promptly. These leadership appointments are effective immediately and follow the decision that Léo Apotheker step down as president and chief executive officer and resign as a director of the company.

“We are fortunate to have someone of Meg Whitman’s caliber and experience step up to lead HP,” said Lane. “We are at a critical moment and we need renewed leadership to successfully implement our strategy and take advantage of the market opportunities ahead. Meg is a technology visionary with a proven track record of execution. She is a strong communicator who is customer focused with deep leadership capabilities. Furthermore, as a member of HP’s board of directors for the past eight months, Meg has a solid understanding of our products and markets.”

Whitman said, “I am honored and excited to lead HP. I believe HP matters –- it matters to Silicon Valley, California, the country and the world.”

Speaking on behalf of the board, Lane said, “We very much appreciate Léo’s efforts and his service to HP since his appointment last year. The board believes that the job of the HP CEO now requires additional attributes to successfully execute on the company’s strategy. Meg Whitman has the right operational and communication skills and leadership abilities to deliver improved execution and financial performance.”

Financial analyst conference call details

HP will host an audio webcast for financial analysts and stockholders to discuss today’s announcement. Details are below:

When: Sept. 22, 2 p.m. PT / 5 p.m. ET

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