Tuesday, July 16, 2013

New Board member Ray Ozzie

HP is still able to recruit Board members -- apparently six meetings a year for $325,000  (a pretty good hourly rate) is enough to induce some folk to put up with the critical press coverage -- and who knows, at some point the press might turn positive even.

This time, a proven technology veteran has been recruited, to join two "suits" as the old sniggers would have it.  

Ray Ozzie, an inveterate creative type, and inventor of Notes among other things, has joined.  

The problem that Ozzie has had over the years, though, has been a near-total inability to get either IBM or Microsoft to listen to him.  IBM bought his Lotus Notes product and company, but his role at Big Blue never seemed to bear fruit.  He sold another company, Groove, to Microsoft to put more punch-up into their software; it basically was a failed product for them.  Then, for a short year, he was Bill Gates' "replacement" as Chief Software Officer.  Nothing happened from that, or if he did so, the plaudits that arose seemed muted at best.  And Ozzie was an employee at both of these giant companies.

Ozzie comes now to HP, a company still larger than either of the above two, and a company that has turned a deaf ear to software far longer than IBM.  And he comes as a board member, rather than in an operational role, so what's the odds that Ozzie can help?

Global Equities Research analyst Trip Chowdhry noted that Ozzie should prove especially valuable in helping HP get into new tech markets. But Chowdhry said he believes venture capitalist Marc Andreessen should quit the HP board to minimize the concern that he might influence HP to buy companies in which his own firm has invested.

Interesting charge, that last one.  If Andreaseen has some 'hot companies' in his portfolio, maybe he can at least get HP to consider some of them.  My guess though is that Marc's investments are much more in the 'personal' or 'crowd sourcing' or 'entertainment' arenas, which is the case for most of the VC money, whereas HP expenditures have been largely in the enterprise and infrastructure realm.  Hardly any cross-over there, so I'm not too worried about conflict of interest.  

I do worry that Andreassen is 'older' than the current crop of kids inventing new companies; Ozzie is positively neanderthal in that regard.  But both are better than Ronald McDonald learnings or Walgreens, don't you think?  As one ex-staffer penned me -- "now we can finally imagine commoditizing all the rest of the employees"

2 comments:

Walter Underwood said...

I doubt that Ray Ozzie can "save HP", but he should be able to call bullshit on flawed technology strategies. That is probably worth $325K by itself.

Walter Underwood said...

I doubt that Ray Ozzie can "save HP", but he should be able to call bullshit on flawed technology strategies. That is probably worth $325K by itself.