Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Writers with things to say about Carly

The early commentators included Jeffrey Sonnenfeld from Yale, and xxxxx  xxxxxxx from the San Jose Mercury-News--both quite negative.

Then Julie Bort weighed in, for Business Insider on Sept 16.  She was less strident, but did say that "To be fair, her tenure overlapped with the end of the dot-com bubble, and a lot of tech companies had similar stock price drops during that period as well.  But HP's stock performance was worse than other big tech companies, such as Cisco, Intel, Microsoft, and Oracle, during her tenure."  

Well, my earlier post compared Intel and Microsoft to HP during this period, and it's hard to argue that any significant difference existed.  As for Cisco--well, during this period, the company was a total high-flier, becoming the most valued market cap company on the globe--not exactly a fair comparison for any other company, not just HP.
Oracle--well, that story is really a laugher--here's the chart (I don't think Bort did her homework)

Stephen Gambel for Fortune.com tried on Sept 22, and came up with this gem: " HP’s stock price significantly underperformed rivals during Fiorina’s time as CEO, and she was eventually fired in 2005, because the merger she pushed through with Compaq was considered a failure at the time. But on other measures like revenue and cash flow growth, HP under Fiorina seems to have done better—though still not that much better than rivals.      By 2003, HP had slumped to No. 2, trailing Dell. In her final full year at the company, Fiorina’s HP trailed Dell by almost two percentage points in the PC market.By the time Fiorina left HP, the company was not the “leader in every market segment, every product category.” It wasn’t actually even the leader in personal computers, which was at the heart of the acquisition of Compaq, and one of the company’s largest business segments.  
HP did eventually regain the lead in the PC market, but it didn’t happen until the final quarter of 2006, nearly two years after Fiorina had left HP. And even by then, it was starting to look like a Pyrrhic victory. The PC market, the one Fiorina was in part chasing with the merger with Compaq, was already becoming vastly less profitable than it used to be."
Setting aside Gambel's wrong comments about stock price "significantly underperforming rivals", this answer begs to have a Dell/HP comparison which I've not provided as yet.  Subsequent posts will do this--you might be quite surprised by the numbers.

The most illuminating article compared five of HP's CEO's with each other--from Lew Platt thru Meg Whitman.  See Carly Fiorina versus HP's other CEOs, in charts
Laura Mandaro, George Petras, Frank Pompa and Karl Gelles, USA TODAY 4:11 p.m. EDT September 22, 2015

This is an excellent article, pointing out that Carly was not the 'only dim bulb' running HP
It doesn't compare her time to contemporaries, but it does put HP's fortunes in clear view

Steve Rattner, in the New York Times Opinion Pages, wrote "Carly Fiorina really was that bad." again taking most of the same points, but going back and blaming her for Lucent's capsizing a year and a half later (and noting that she was never CEO).  What I liked best was a comment to Rattner's article by Tom of Fort Collins (who I am betting was a colleague of mine there).  Tom wrote: "


 Fort Collins, CO September 26, 2015
I worked at HP during Carly's tenure and was one of the few that survived her massive layoffs due to her Compaq acquisition. Her twisted recitation and spin of reality during her time at HP is frustrating.

A lot is written about the financial impact when she was there. Little is written about how her leadership destroyed HP's culture. Great technology made and delivered by fiercely loyal HP employees devolved into missed market opportunities and a demoralized, decimated employee base.

Like a stone thrown into a pond, the ripples from Carly's tenure continue their outward progression. Read any financial newspaper today about the turmoil at HP...company splitting, thousands being laid off...and you can draw a straight line backwards to Carly's time at HP.

This is the Carly story--the numbers being used are inappropriate, in most cases, but the story Tom tells could be told by countless thousands of HPites.

By far the most nuanced, and accurate, assessment in my view published in recent weeks is this Harvard Biz Review article: 

Carly Fiorina’s Legacy as CEO of Hewlett Packard

SEPTEMBER 25, 2015
Benham, as did I, spent much time during Carly's and Hurd's tenures interviewing folk within HP.  He reports a most convincing story that gets to some of Tom's points, some of those made in my book, and almost none of which gets credence from the Wall Street crowd.  Get it, and read it--he concludes that she isn't as good as she says, and nowhere near as bad as the jackels would have it.

Here's the link: https://hbr.org/2015/09/carly-fiorinas-legacy-as-ceo-of-hewlett-packard 

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