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Meg Whitman replaces Apotheker as HP CEO

September 22, 2011 6:46:36 PM PDT
There was a big shake-up at Hewlett -Packard Thursday -- former eBay CEO Meg Whitman is taking charge. She's replacing a CEO who spent just 11 months on the job with HP's stock dropped almost 50 percent during that time.

In the Silicon Valley, almost anyone you ask will tell you HP needs a big fix. But few top-notch CEOs are lining up for the job. Whitman could be the one person with enough fire in her belly to do it, but her critics already are predicting failure.

Former HP manager and co-author of the book "The HP Phenomenon" Chuck House is blunt in his expectations for Whitman as HP's new CEO. When asked by ABC7 how much confidence he had in her potential for success, his answer was "none."

"She's a mismatch for the HP way, the historic humane treatment of employees, I think that's a tough one for her," House said. "I think it's a very challenging business issues that she hasn't had a lot of experience with."

HP is a far different company than eBay, which she headed for 10 years. HP is a hardware company that makes computers, printers and servers. It stumbled recently when it branched out to make tablets and smartphones.

Among Silicon Valley workers, Whitman also has a reputation.

"I've worked with people that worked with Meg Whitman and nobody really had good things to say," Silicon Valley resident Ralph Freshour said.

Others believe Whitman will bring to hp a passion to win and to re-establish herself as a top tech manager after a failed bid to become California governor.

"I think that what you have at work here, and which may be for the good of the company, is someone who very much has a bit between her teeth and wants to do this job and take on this challenge," Golden Gate University Dean Emeritus Terry Connelly said. "In all fairness, that's what Hewlett Packard needs."

Past HP CEOs have had mixed reviews. Carly Fiorina battled the son of co-founder Bill Hewlett over the acquisition of Compaq Computer. Mark Hurd left after a scandal involving a female contractor. Leo Apotheker lasted only 11 months.

Whitman will have immediate challenges.

"She's going to be facing a lot of pushback, a lot of ingrained systems that could be quite challenging for her and her style," Silicon Valley worker Harry Chang said.

Not clear yet is whether Whitman will bring in a new management team or leave existing managers in place. What she does will signal whether HP is facing a shake-up or business as usual.


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