Did HP Get Needed Change or Lose Its Soul?

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Mark who? In what looks like a bid to purge all remnants of the Hurd era from Hewlett-Packard's (NYSE: HPQ  ) institutional memory, new chief executive Leo Apotheker announced a series of executive changes yesterday. Let's review:

  • Peter Bocian, who joined HP in 2008 after a brief stint at Starbucks, is out as chief administrative officer. He and Hurd worked together at NCR (NYSE: NCR  ) for most of Hurd's 25 years at the company.
  • Randy Mott, who joined HP from Dell (Nasdaq: DELL  ) three months into Hurd's reign as CEO, is out as chief information officer.
  • Ann Livermore, a 29-year vet of HP and one of the tech industry's most respected executives, is stepping down as head of HP's enterprise business and moving to the board of directors. Her duties will be split between Dave Donatelli (servers, storage, networking) and Bill Veghte (software). Both men are recent hires -- Donatelli in 2009, Veghte in 2010 -- and will join sales chief Jan Zadak in reporting directly to Apotheker from now on.

HP says in a press release that the changes align HP to "better capitalize on strategic market opportunities." Hogwash. Take it from a PR pro who used to write junk like that; these moves are Apotheker putting his imprimatur on the business and nothing more.

It's one of several steps he's taken and could still take. But is it the right one? I'm not sure. At one time, Livermore was the only internal candidate seriously considered to replace former HP chief Lew Platt.

If only she had. Instead, Platt's retirement led to four and a half years of disastrous stewardship under Carly Fiorina. Will Apotheker fare better? You tell us. Please vote in the poll below, and then leave a comment to tell us what you think of Apotheker's HP.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock-picking team. He didn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Twitter as @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader.

The Motley Fool owns shares of Starbucks. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Starbucks. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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