Monday, September 21, 2015

HP and Corporate Scandal?

Amy Chozick and Quentin Hardy, front-page story for today's NY Times, claim: Mrs. Fiorina’s political rivals have also highlighted that she ushered in a period of corporate scandal, including public clashes with members of the Hewlett family. Fired in 2005, she left with more than $42 million in severance, stock options and pension.

What kind of reporting is this?  
1. A public clash with the Hewlett family had no corporate scandal associated with it--a lot of bad blood and anger, yes, but not scandal.  Yes, a forced-shift by Deutsche Bank share votes helped the final vote in the Compaq deal, but it was fully investigated and HP exonerated.
2. Leaving with $42 million severance sounds egregious, and was largess, but Hurd got more severance from the same company when fired for sexual dalliance / reputation besmirching. And Ellison, Hurd's new benefactor, collected $706 million the same year as Carly's firing.  These were days of insane payouts--not defending Fiorina on this one, but it was hardly abnormal or 'scandal.' 
3. The biggest scandal in Silicon Valley in the Fiorina era was back-dated stock options--ways that Steve Jobs and many other CEOs larded their nests.  But HP assiduously avoided this gambit, even with its purported architect as the long-standing HP chief counsel:  
Here's a passage from THE HP PHENOMENON (Stanford, 2009, p. 478):

When Fiorina was being excoriated for excessive pay, it was not yet known that greed was being coupled to systematic graft at nearly two hundred Silicon Valley companies, with widespread stock option back- dating to ensure huge gains. Several Pulitzer Prize–winning Wall Street Journal stories in 2005 and 2006 reported the stunning extent of these practices occurring in 19972002. One analyst reported that 23 percent of some 38,500 option grants had been manipulated, with estimated total net worth “improvements” approaching $100 billion.22 Subsequently, HP’s chief corporate counsel, prominent lawyer Larry Sonsini of the firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich and Rosati, came under fire for his firm’s seeming complicity in the practice.
March 29, 2007, san francisco, california: “Options Morass Deepens at Wilson Sonsini,” wrote Justin Scheck for The Recorder, the San Francisco Bar Association newspaper:
Wilson Sonsini Goodrich an; Rosati has spent the past year trying to back away from the metastasizing stock option backdating mess, but an internal e-mail now in regulators’ hands is making it difficult. In a 2004 message, Wilson Sonsini lawyer Roger Stern asks his partner to dig up a document from the time when a client was “using the time machine to pick low strike prices.”
Across a swath of companies at which Sonsini had a leadership role, options were misdated on his watch by executives or lawyers close to him, by company officials consulting with Sonsini’s firm, and—in the high-profile Pixar case—by Sonsini himself. Prominent among those companies are Brocade, Juniper Net- works, Apple, and Pixar, as well as KLA. Complicating matters is the fact that, according to SEC records, Sonsini and his firm may have profited immensely from stock awards by companies that admit to rampant options improprieties.23
Fiorina vehemently noted in mid-2007 that Hewlett-Packard had as- siduously avoided any such illicit activity, even as it became the Silicon Valley norm; moreover, in sharp contrast to many others, notably including archrival Dell Computers, no earnings misfilings have ever emerged from the company where Packard set the ethical standard. Pretexting, although hard to defend, did not seem nearly as reprehensible as these offences (and Hurd, not Fiorina, started the pre-texting scandal).  

Re Hurd's scandal-laden HP career, see The Big Lie: Spying, Scandal, and Ethical Collapse at Hewlett Packard, by Anthony Bianco, 2010.   Fiorina's contributions to Hurd's shenanigans don't feature in the book.

So, my conclusion is that Hardy and friend were over-reaching--Fiorina DID NOT participate in any of the visible scandals of the day, while her actions that they describe as scandalous weren't.

One might, however, reach a different conclusion if you follow the Iran story (see my 9/14/15 post re

 "Carly revisited")

NY Times takes on Fiorina's record

Amy Chozick and Quentin Hardy, front page NY Times today (9/20/15) note the following:

“We doubled the size of the company,” Mrs. Fiorina said in last week’s debate. “We quadrupled its top-line growth rate. We quadrupled its cash flow. We tripled its rate of innovation.”
But much of that growth resulted from the Compaq acquisition. Profits as a percentage of revenue in the six years Mrs. Fiorina served as chief executive declined about 40 percent. The stock price fell sharply. Mrs. Fiorina blames the burst of the dot-com bubble for the drop, but HP shares fell by more than the stocks of competitors like Dell, IBM, Intel and Microsoft.
Mrs. Fiorina’s political rivals have also highlighted that she ushered in a period of corporate scandal, including public clashes with members of the Hewlett family. Fired in 2005, she left with more than $42 million in severance, stock options and pension.

So, let's take a look at the 'all-important' stock prices.  First, look at HP vs. Intel and Microsoft.  Intel and Microsoft, you might recall, were building 90+% of the chips and the software operating system for PCs of the era.

The curves for all three companies are practically mirror-images of each other.  So, yes, for the day she left, Intel and Microsoft were "better" but very few shareholders would be thrilled with any of the three.  Is -37% lots better than -43% or -46%?  And for the day, it was very important to all three how the Dell vs. HP/Ccompaq play--Carly's bet--was progressing.  And it had been progressing nicely, underneath 'the covers.'  In fact, by the end of the second quarter (recall that Carly was fired at the end of the first quarter, and HP had no CEO, or actually the interim CFO, Bob Wayman) for the second quarter, HP's improving fortunes were clearly visible without any of Hurd's help.

And by the end of the year, HP was clearly beating Dell in the marketplace--which took three years to consolidate, but the trends (see a later post) were clear by mid-2004 to the dealer channel.   By October, HP stock prices are significantly better than either Intel or Microsoft (neither Intel nor Microsoft moved 3%; HP improved 22%)  .  Short-termer's (and most of Wall Street traders are such) gave Hurd credit instead of realizing that Fiorina's fundamentals drove this.

Hard for me to agree thus with Hardy or Chozick.  Hardy covered HP during this period; he knows this, and he was very selective in the NY Times article.  Notice he didn't do the other Valley companies--Oracle, Agilent, Cisco, or even Apple.  The first three did even worse than HP; Apple had one great quarter (next post) due to initial reaction to the i-Pod, which disappeared soon after.

As for Corporate Scandal, HUH?  I'll take this up in the next post.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Cisco Intel and HP 2000-2005 fiscal years

The lasts post discussed START and END points, dating each to "the day" that Carly started, and the day she was fired--trying to get a 'fix' on the numbers being used on television in this silly season.

In fact, though, most analysts and business students agree that there is a certain period of time that is legacy from the last person.  A new person doesn't just sweep into office, and from that day forward, all good things (and bad) happen because of them.  Think of the baseball analogy--if the previous pitcher has loaded the bases, any of those folk who score are "earned runs" on his watch, not the reliever's.

Can this be quantified?  Probably not very well, but certainly there are valid reasons to "count" some performance for/against the last CEO.

In Carly's case, she came into HP on July 16, 1999, inheriting Lew Platt as Chairman, and his decision to divest the historic HP instrumentation business (which became Agilent Technologies on November 1, 1999).  It certainly seems reasonable to consider that Carly's influence for the next fourteen weeks on the stock price, revenue, and profit was minimal compared to what would happen if she hadn't arrived; Lew's decision to divest of course had lots of lost-opportunity cost as the company had to deal with myriad 'separation questions.'

At the back end of her reign (it still shocks me how easily it is to talk of "Queen Carly and her reign" compared to, say, John Young and his CEO tenure), she and her PC team had built considerable momentum,  integrating the Compaq and HP PC offerings, changing the dealer channel incentives to 'bundle PCs and printers' which had been hard with the LaserJet and ThinkJet turf wars that had boiled over.  Dell was, for the first time, showing signs of mortality.

Bob Wayman served as interim CEO for eight weeks, until Mark Hurd was hired and arrived in April.  By the end of the fiscal year (October), HP had caught Dell in growth rate, revenues and market share, and passed them in profitability,   Each quarter for the previous nine quarters had analogous momentum on market share gains, but the profit gain was only four quarters long--something she'd promised the Board and shareholders clear back in May 2002.

So, how much if any of these gains should/could be properly attributed to Carly's leadership?  Jeff Sonnenfeld and many shareholders would say NONE.  Less jaundiced observers might say six to nine months.  I am saying, in the slides below, YOU DECIDE.

The graphs below show HP share price compared directly, day by day, for six years with first, Cisco, and second, Intel.  The inset numbers show comparative "loss" of market value for each, one for Carly's last day (2/7/05) and the other for the end of the fiscal year she started (10/31/05).

The numbers aren't radically different, and the graphs are remarkably similar to each other in shape, bumps, etc.  It isn't intuitively obvious to me that HP's stock performance differed hardly at all from either of these companies at any time in the six years.  And yet, Craig Barrett and Andy Grove at Intel, and John Chambers at Cisco never had a dissenting board, or a disgruntled stockholder revolt.  Weird?  Did she bring this on herself by over-promising?  Or was the stock revolt merely a cover for 'the real reason' that the Board fired her?

Friday, September 18, 2015

From when to when--what to count?

Here's a picture of HP Stock price from Aug 4, 1999 through July 30 2004

These are not exactly the comparison dates that the Fortune, Forbes, New York Times, FoxNews, and Jeffrey Soonenfeld are using, but it serves to make a point, which is -- when do you start the clock on Carly?   One question of course is WHAT DATES ARE THEY USING, since they get somewhat different answers than I do.

END DATE and impact:  We know the end date = February 7, 2005.  And for that, we know the Friday closing on 2/4/05 of $20.45/share for HP, and the following Friday of $21.30.   So the endpoint is pretty well established.  And firing Carly on Monday did bounce the stock UPWARD -- 10% according to Jeffrey, ending the day up 7%.  Here we see that by the end of the week, it was just 4.1%.  And the S and P 500 didn't move at all.  On the other hand, next-door analogous neighbors Intel and Agilent moved UP 5.4% for that same week. and neither of them fired their local CEO, or reported any 'new news."  So, I'd conclude that Jeffrey and team are using a bogus criteria on this one.  We'll compare this in a later post with other Silicon Valley denizens.

START DATE and impact:  Carly's start date at HP was July 19, 1999.  Forbes and Fortune seem to be using July 1, 1999 for some reason, and Jeffrey has used two different comparisons viz the S/P 500, one is a 47% drop for Carly vs. 7.2% for S/P 500; the other is a 52% drop for Carly vs. 15%.
We know the ending S/P number is 1204, so it either is 1297 or 1416 on some date in 1999 or 2000 for his calculations.

Voila--July 16 Friday close for the S/P 500 was 1416, but this yields that HP stock did far worse, down 63% instead of Jeffrey's claimed 52% for her full tenure.  You'd think he'd want to use it all; maybe he just slipped a digit in the simple arithmetic.

June 11, 1999, the S/P 500 was 1293, which gives a drop of 47% for HP shares, 7.2% for S/P.  Maybe this is the date they're using???  If so, why?  And does it make a difference?  Well, the difference in starting point between June 11 and July 16 for HP stock price was $44.19 vs. $57.00.  Many shareholders would like that 29.0% gain in five weeks.

Either way, the basic claim being made is certainly more-or-less correct.  The S and P 500 did go down modestly during Carly's reign at HP; HP shares fell in half or more.  So, she's guilty as rain, and Sonnenfeld's  claims in print and on TV are essentially accurate.

But, they're mostly irrelevant.  If Sonnenfeld doesn't know that, it'd be sophomoric, but almost excusable.  But his specialty at Yale, and in his eight books, is claimed to be knowing how to correlate and track CEO performance.  So he MUST know he's cheating.  The comparison has to be between comparable situations, not between apples and oranges.

He kinda showed his colors on this on TV last night--opting to say Carly uses "selective" companies such as Cisco and Intel to make her comparisons.  He offers that he'd use Google (which didn't go public until her last six months; so we could use Yahoo), Xerox (who didn't have a dog in the hunt, but Corning Glass did, and so did Motorola); and Facebook which didn't exist period, and became a company three years after Carly was fired, and went public only in 2012.  He also said Dell, a curious choice since Carly's reputedly dumbest move was to buy Compaq, and with it, she and then Hurd whipped Dell badly.

Ah, well.

So, I will show some apt comparisons in subsequent posts.

I do this not because I am a Carly fan for the Presidency, but simply because factual history should have a place in our society, especially at institutions as reputedly ethical as Yale.

Jeffrey Sonnenfeld is becoming visible

What great good luck for you readers.  Five days ago (last Monday), I posted a gibe at Jeffrey Sonnenfeld for his misguided attack on Carly Fiorina's stats as HP's CEO.  Wednesday night on the Republican dias, his name came up from Donald Trump, trumpeting Sonnenfeld's claim that she was in the top twenty of worst CEOs in American history.  In fact, Sonnenfeld's August article said, "THE WORST."

Carly's rebuttal in the Republican debate was spirited, and accurate, re the numbers and the meltdown.  The key phrase for Sonnenfeld in his article was that she 'destroyed shareholder value 52% while the S and P 500 only went down 15%--ergo, she's terrible.  In the article, he didn't mention her persona or looks.

So, tonight, Lawrenece O'Donnell brought Sonnenfeld onto his show, showed the clip from Wednesday night with Donald and Carly, and asked him to give "the truth"

Here's the clip in case you missed it

What we got was a strange sideways lurch--maybe he read my post in the meantime?  He repeated his S and P 500 story, but changed it from 15% down to a mere 7% down over the 2000-2005 period.  He repeated the shibboleth that the Compaq deal was DISASTROUS, and so was the DIGITAL deal, and repeated that she dropped HP stock value by more than half.

This time he took her comments apart, saying she "selectively picks a couple of companies--Cisco and Intel--and rests her case on those."  He goes on to say, she should compare her work with Dell, Apple (which tripled 3x in that period, he avers)  or Xerox.  That she cobbled together worthless pieces of cast-off companies and doubled the size of HP, but it was all valueless, and "she came out wealthy while her shareholders came out poorer."

This guy is pedigreed, a major professor.  Read his Yale bio:

his work is regularly cited by the general media in such outlets as: BusinessWeekFortuneForbes, the Wall Street Journal, the New York TimesNewsweekTime, the Economist, the Financial Times, the Washington Post, CBS (60 Minutes), NBC (The Today Show), ABC (NightlineGood Morning America), CNN, and Fox News, as well as PBS, where he is a regular commentator, and CNBC, where he is a regular commentator. BusinessWeek listed Sonnenfeld as one of the world’s 10 most influential business school professors and Directorship magazine has listed him among the 100 most influential figures in corporate governance. He is the first academician to have rung the opening bells of both the New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq Stock Exchange.

This guy is a hotshot in other words.  He's published eight books, most on corporate leadership.  He's "the real deal."  

He is also loose with facts, arrogant, and WRONG in this case.  What a travesty to have him commenting.  Fortune, Business Week, and today's Business Insider should be more careful, but my experience with the East Coast press is that they are pretty East Coast focused.  

The next few posts will examine the facts from MY POINT of VIEW, not SONNENFELD's.

And they're based on publicly available records, like annual reports, interviews of people from the day as reported in our Stanford Business School book, THE HP PHENOMENON (2009), and stock market records.

They will show, I believe, that Sonnenfeld is NOT CREDIBLE with his claims, and is a smooth glib journalist pretending to be an objective Yale business leadership professor.  Unfortunately, he is getting major airtime.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

HP Labs? Still a presence?

From the previous post, "at a conference examining the explosive growth of traffic on the Internet and future technology requirements. HP Labs notably absent - no longer even taken seriously in such circles."

I had dinner with an "old" HP Labs crony Tuesday evening in Menlo Park.  He chronicled the numbers --in 1990, with sales of $15B, HP Labs (the research teams that got HP into computing, and later did RISC architectures so well, and now 'of course' "THE MACHINE" which is eagerly anticipated by some, and scorned as 'so much hype' by others) had 1200 staff, in Palo Alto and Bristol, England.

In 2010, after Carly and Hurd collectively (but with Lew Platt's help also), the employee count was down to 400, in five world-wide locations (outposts only in three of them).  Revenues were $127B.  And Hurd was caught 'pants-down' so to speak.  Wonder if he's got friends at Stanford Biz School (wasn't that sad about Garth Saloner's shenanigans, vehemently denied)?

Today, after the Martin Fink arrival replacing Prith Banerjee three years ago, the Labs is down to 250 folk, while HP chugs along, pre-split, at $111 Billion

HP Labs of course was "the renewal engine" for HP for decades, providing most of the impetus for (1) leadership in scientific computing; (2) leadership in mobile computing (the HP 35 and other handhelds); (3) leadership in department business computing; (4) leadership in peripherals, esp. printers and imaging

Not to mention leadership in integrated circuits (building and shipping 75,000 16-bit microcomputer chips before Intel delivered its first 16-bit sample chips; 90% of the world's Light-Emitting Diodes (LEDs) for two decades; 90%+ of the Gallium-Arsenide devices that today power the satellite communications systems of the world), medical diagnostics, and analytical chemistry.

What, you might ask, has HP Labs done for renewal for HP since 1990?  Hard to specify?  Hard to decide?  Hard to know?

What IS the cross-product of 250 researchers divided by $110B vs. 1200 researchers divided by $15B?

The answer is a shocking 1 researcher today for every 106 researchers twenty-five years ago per revenue dollar.  A bet of 1% of what it used to be on interesting forward-looking research.  Whew

And in 1990, HP had 16 members of the National Academy of Engineering; today my sources indicate that they have only one.   For two decades from the start as a public company in 1957, HP had a Nobel Prize-winner (Luis Alvarez) from Berkeley and the Dean of Engineering from Stanford, Fred Terman, on the Board of Directors.  Quite a vote for Engineering Excellence--for a long time.  Not so evident today?

To be sure, many of the 'big labs'--Bell Labs, XeroxPARC, MCC among them--have dwindled.

But gosh... innovation seems still pretty important for leadership in this crazy competitive world.

Oracle buying HP?

The San Jose Merc is having a field day with the HP stories this week

Yesterday's report, acc. to analyst Rob Enderle (an Oregon pundit often commenting re HP), is that Larry Ellison would love to buy HP, just to "take them out".  Mark Hurd might even be behind such a move, although he wasn't mentioned in the story.

On of my readers sent along the following yesterday: Always consider the source in any news article! Enderle has no in depth understanding (weak background) - easy to do hip shooting comments.

There are options for Oracle other than the two he proposes, and I think that these are more likely; e.g. cherry pick HP Enterprise for good people in this time of confusion and uncertainty at HP E.

Incidentally I spent Monday on the Stanford campus at a conference examining the explosive growth of traffic on the Internet and future technology requirements. HP Labs notably absent - no longer even taken seriously in such circles.


Today (9-17), the same reader sent a follow-up note: Further thoughts:

HP's mkt cap is $48B.

Oracle mkt cap is $165B, with $54B in cash and short term investments.

Oracle could easily buy all of HP today pre-split.

But why would they want to?

And yet more, from the same observer (9-18):

more thoughts:

Why would Oracle want even the Enterprise side?

Oracle already has a competent full-stack offering -- Processor, Storage, Operating
System, Database, languages (Java), Services and Consulting.

HP Enterprise doesn't add much to any of these areas.  If Oracle owned HPE, they'd need to kill SPARC
or Itanium, need to cut an overstaffed services group, etc, etc.  Perhaps they'd pick up some storage technology,
but this isn't worth the bother.  It isn't clear what "The Machine" adds, or how memristors are going to compete with
Intel/Micron's "Optane" memory.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Fiorina--Outta the park?

On a national stage, in Ronnie Reagan's library with a 747 fuselage backdrop, ten erstwhile Republican male candidates faced off with Carly Fiorina now included with some late-stage negotiations.

How'd she do?

Pundits--both CNN and MS/NBC gave her the top billing--"she hit it outta the park" even as they said, "She has to, to become viable."

Fiorina proved equal to the occasion, far more than most others, and as indeed she did at HP (Walt's comments in the previous post notwithstanding), her quick wit was in full display.  This gal is smart, no question about it, and she was studied and ready for the show.

I personally loved her succinct answer re Donald Trump's snide remarks a week ago about her looks, and I also thought she deftly served up a credible story about her HP time, vis-a-vis the meltdown and the competitive situations.  She even remarked on Sonnenfeld's personal distaste for her, and why he did the hatchet job with his wrong analysis--I especially enjoyed that little tete-a-tete!

And her put-down of Trump's snotty "Killed HP" comments, for which he blamed how difficult it has been for Meg, poor gal a decade later, with her observation about his four bankruptcies (which he felt obliged to say, "No, my timing was adroit (as always) and I left others holding the bag.")

Her forthcoming story about losing a child to drug abuse was new to me, and it put a more human side on display than she typically does.  A couple of commentators felt she'd benefit to smile at least once; one rejoinder was that Marco Rubio didn't either, and no one bashes men for not smiling.  Score one!

Her too well-rehearsed and uninvited military build-up 30 second spot was detailed and inappropriate where she did it; the energy about how deceitful Hillary Clinton has been seemed somehow like "don't throw stones if you live in a glass-house"   I mean, someone may just dredge up that Iran story next time, and say "uhh, please do explain..."

Our entire extended family was distressed and discouraged by her major error on citing "harvesting body parts" from a purported Planned Parenthood video.  She can't resist the bait still of camera-grabbing

As they say, GREAT THEATRE.

One might conclude, though, that the country is in trouble, if these seventeen (fifteen) cnadidates are the best we can find.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Jeff Sonnenfeld the Yale idiot-savant

I just had occasion to watch Jeff Sonnenfeld, Yale's primo Business School professor, who slammed Carly Fiorina on Squawk Box last month

What a pompous clown.  This is the kind of guy who has helped lead American businesses into distress all over America with such notions as Core Competence and Outsourcing, and Operational Excellence.   He masquerades as one of the top professors in America about CEO's and their performance.  And he has it all wrong about Carly.  She is plenty assailable, but he curiously uses wrong claims.

I  have had more than my fill of these bozos.

Carly, he says, is great on TV, but obviously "THE WORST CEO IN HISTORY"


The problem with clowns like this is that they get listened to.  He is so full of himself, and so wrong on his facts about her, that it really must be construed as a hatchet job in my view.

I am not a Carly fan, although my long-time HP buddies think I "sold out" when I did the book.  What I did was use the data of the day--things like, revenue, profit, stock price, market share--and compared HP to Intel, Cisco, Sun, IBM, and Microsoft.  Guess what--Fiorina on virtually all measures was in the top half of that group for the fateful 2000-2004 scenario.  She, quicker than anyone, perceived the depth and reality of the meltdown.  Sonnenfeld doesn't believe it mattered--he only knows of the Lehman Brothers issues seven years later (guess where his money was parked).

Carly was--is--ego-driven.  Ever meant a Presidential candidate who wasn't?  Ever met a CEO who wasn't?  This is pretty standard territory.  The issue in part at HP was HP had, for historic reasons, never enjoyed such a CEO.  The Board picked her partially for those reasons, not to continue the HP 'nice-guy' facade.  This was Silicon Valley, and HP under Lew Platt had completely forfeited the excitement, whereas Scott McNealy, John Chambers, and Larry Ellison saw it clearly.

Carly, according to her critics--including most recently Jeff Sonnenfeld and Scott Herhold-- botched things by buying Compaq instead of a Services company.  Earlier of course others slammed her for trying to buy a Services company (Price Waterhouse) and offering too miuch money, pointing out that IBM bought PWC for 19% of what Carly offered.   Those critics forgot to check the relative stock values of all three companies for when the respective deals were proferred.  Seems IBM paid almost exactly what Carly offered, in 'real dollars' when all was said and done.

So, she was slammed for what she did and what she didn't do, strategically, and in every case, history in my view has proven her right.

It'd be fun to see her make something of this campaign.  And then the knives about her TERRIBLE HP PERFORMANCE will sharpen even more.  Meanwhile, enjoy Jeffrey's harangue.

Fiorina revisited

So, today's news is an interesting summary of Fiorina:

1. Failed at HP

2. Failed at Congressional seat

3. Failed to make the top Ten for the CBS 'show' of front-runners

4. Succeeded at the "Second Summit" of the also-ran Seven

5. Succeeded in getting CBS to 'change the rules' to allow her into the "Top Ten"

6. Succeeded in pissing off Donald Trump, enough that he 'shot at her face'

Then there is the Bloomberg article that came out today, claiming that Fiorina not only knew about, but abetted the illegal HP-Iran sales during her tenure at HP.  Josh Rogin did a credible job analyzing all of this sordid deal, claiming that HP knowingly skirted the law through a loophole.  Essentially true, and as Rogin concludes, it hardly reconciles with her strong words right now, righteously, about what she'd do as President re the Iran 'deal' on the table today.

And for burying the hatchet in the lady, how about Scott Herhold's San Jose Merc article last month, entitled "Grading Carly Fiorina's tenure at HP."  Herhold, admittedly a journalist and not an HP employee, trotted out a number of gripes (seems he had to eat his words when he publicly claimed in 2002 she'd not get the Compaq deal done).  Carly, he wrote, gave him a "a real stomach ache, rooted in memory."

Most of the gripes are legitimate, on the surface.  Such as "Compared to the S and P 500, shareholder wealth was sliced by 52 percent during her 1999-2005 tenure."  Fiorina has been tarred with this beef ever since she was fired.  What it leaves out is how badly the Silicon Valley teams all did in the same interval.  Cisco and Intel were down (AND STILL ARE) by 70+%, not 52%.  Sun disappeared.  No one writes that Barrett, Chambers and McNealy were dumber than a post; Carly seems to draw every spear.

It is significant that Tom Perkins two weeks ago took out a praiseworthy ad in the New York Times for Carly, even apologizing for firing her.

I have first-hand experience with the press vis-a-vis Carly--Channel 7 called when she announced, becuase of my HP book, would I comment?  Sure, I said.  I gave four solid positive remarks, one negative, and one caveat.  The evening news featured ONLY the negative--the press doesn't look for the truth, they look for the supporting story for their belief.  Such are Herhold's beefs, on almost every score.  Ah, well....

Yes, she is a bit vain-glorious.  Ever met Hillary?  Ever met Bill Clinton?  Ever met Ronald Reagan?  Or, who's this new guy, Trump?  Carly is more substance than almost any politician we've had in years, smarter than most as well, and yes, her HP tenure was flawed, but she out-performed nearly every other CEO in Silicon Valley during that period--check the stock market charts in my book if you don't believe that.