Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman

LUCY NICHOLSON/Reuters

Dec. 31 saw the close of Meg Whitman's first full year as CEO of Hewlett-Packard Co. It was also a year that saw the company's shares fall 45 per cent, making it easily the worst performer in the Dow Jones Industrial Average and one of the five worst in all of the S&P 500.

That would be enough to send many CEOs packing. But probably not Ms. Whitman – meaning she's a CEO that shareholders are stuck with for 2013.

Why? Well, it's fair to say HP had a few problems before she became CEO. A lot of problems, really.

Story continues below advertisement

The company's multi-year effort to move away from commodity PCs and toward higher-margin consulting with corporate America has been overshadowed by a never-ending stream of stumbles and fumbles from the boardroom on down.

This is familiar history to many, as the story of how HP has fallen from a U.S. tech pioneer to laughingstock has been one of the most compelling corporate tales for some time.

To recap some of the most immediate history:

  • HP turned from value play to basket case under CEO Léo Apotheker, a former executive at European software company SAP.
  • Mr. Apotheker wasn’t given much of a chance to succeed at HP – the board sacked him less than a year after his hiring.
  • All of his major moves have since been reversed or have already soured.
  • Chief among them: the $10-billion purchase of Autonomy, an enterprise software company, in October 2011.
  • By November 2012, HP took a charge against earnings of nearly $9-billion, alleging “serious accounting improprieties” at Autonomy.

Former Autonomy CEO Mike Lynch denies those charges and has accused HP of mismanaging Autonomy, colourfully telling the New York Times "It was like walking into an airplane that's on fire where the pilots are having a punch-up."

There's a case to be made that since Ms. Whitman was on the board of directors when it made the Autonomy deal, she should be held responsible for that – as well as some or all of the share-price erosion since.

Alas, the company has forced out three CEOs (Mr. Apotheker, Mark Hurd and Carly Fiorina) in the last seven years, and, counting interim leaders, has had six people in the top spot since the beginning of 2005.

The company needs stability as badly as it needs a strategy; and while Ms. Whitman hasn't yet made the case as to how the gigantic HP can grow again, she's very much immersed in straightening out the mess created by past leaders. She probably has all of 2013 to do it.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies