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February 14, 2005
Carleton is a girl's name?
I've been meaning to blog about this for a couple days, but haven't gotten around to it.
Since I spend all day buying and selling products manufactured by the Hewlett-Packard Corporation, I've been reading many of the articles about the not-so-surprising ouster of celebrity CEO Carly Fiorina. Despite, the general public concensus, I have a lot of admiration for any woman who can climb to that level of success in an industry, and a business culture in general, that is so totally dominated by men. How can she not be an incredibly intelligent and dynamic business person to have gotten as far as she has by the age of 50?
That said, I find it hard to wrap my brain around the destruction she was wrought at such a (once) proud company. She's taking her 21 million-dollar severance package and leaving little more than a gutted, twitching carcass of a company in her wake. The destruction of 17,000 jobs was a result of decisions she made. Not outsourced. Gone. And somehow, despite hemmoraging their work force, HP is now more bloated and inefficient than ever.
She was brought in to keep HP from being buried by the pace of development that had been ushered in by the dotcom bedflinch of the late nineties. Her experience in telecom at Lucent made her the ideal candidate to help HP adapt and thrive in a tech economy that was more and more about connectivity and flexibility than who can build the biggest, fastest computer. But as soon as she took over, the end was being predicted by those who immediately jumped ship and/or walked the plank. Several were heard saying they knew she wouldn't be there long. They said she was hoping for a bold, flashy turnaround and that she intended to leave and run for senate against Barbara Boxer as early as 2004.
In addition to being a really bad CEO in general, she is credited with destroying the HP way. The HP way sounds kind of hokey, but it is largely credited with being the cornerstone upon which Silicon Valley is built, and frankly, to read about how it was "back then" makes me want to work for HP "back then." You like your iPod? Steve Jobs cites HP as a huge influence on the corporate culture at Apple. I mean, it's not like Fiorina had "Crush the HP way" on the to-do list in her iPaq. The problem was that most of the decisions she made as CEO gave little or no heed to what the company had accomplished since 1939, and a tight-knit family of employees was torn apart in one person's attempt to appease some stock-holders.
It is no big sectret that the beginning and middle of the end was when she decided to spend NINETEEN BILLION DOLLARS on a PC company that was bleeding like a Hooters girl at a vampire convention. Like so many current Presidents of the United States, Carly forged ahead with her plan despite complete and total opposition from everyone on planet earth but her. Something more probably could have been done to stop the merger, but Fiorina's ego was choking out the sun and everyone thought it was nighttime and went to sleep.
I don't think she was ousted because she was a woman. I think she was ousted because she was an ego-maniacal, insensitive bitch, who made a long string of horrible decisions and wrecked a perfectly good company and thousands of people's lives. I have no sympathy for her and I hope the press continues to tear her to shreds.
Several outside news sources provided material for this blog entry. For proper citations, go to google news and enter Fiorina.Posted by tony at February 14, 2005 07:48 AM