Tech Watch: Key Board Changes at Google and Hewlett-Packard

HP's chairman steps down, while Google adds a high-profile new board member.

Jul 16, 2014 at 10:15AM

U.S stocks are higher on Wednesday morning on, among other things, reports that 21st Century Fox made an $85 per-share offer for Time Warner. Animal spirits are definitely back, at least in executive suites and corporate boardrooms. The benchmark S&P 500 and the narrower Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) are up 0.35% and 0.3%, respectively, at 10:20 a.m. EDT. And speaking of boardrooms, there is news this morning concerning significant board changes at two closely followed technology companies: Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL).


At Hewlett-Packard, activist investor Ralph Whitworth has resigned from the board in order to address a health issue (he is also taking leave from Relational Investors, the investment firm he co-founded in 1996). Mr. Whitworth joined Hewlett-Packard's board in 2011, when Relational took a 1.5% stake in the company, before stepping into the chairman's role on an interim basis in April 2013, in a shake-up that saw two long-tenured board members leave.

Mr. Whitworth has been a source of stability at HP, which had gone through four chairmen in under a decade before him. In HP's statement, CEO Meg Whitman called him "a friend and close advisor to me, the HP leadership team and every member of the boar," and a "wonderful contributor to our efforts to turn HP around." If that's the case, then how big is the impact of his departure? That will depend on the choice of his replacement, a matter the directors will discuss at its next meeting. I'd suggest they strongly consider bringing in one of Mr. Whitworth's colleagues at Relational -- at least as a director, if not necessarily as chairman. The activist firm has a much stronger incentive to keep HP's turnaround on track than most other candidates out there.

Either way, investors do not appear overly concerned regarding the matter this morning; they're taking their cues from Intel's strong quarterly results. HP's shares are up 2.4%.

Meanwhile, visionary technology firm Google is adding a bit of old-fashioned industrial know-how to its board with the addition of former Ford CEO Alan Mulally, who left the carmaker at the beginning of this month. This isn't Mr. Mulally's first brush with the technology industry: He was at one time thought to be the leading candidate to replace Steve Ballmer at the head of Microsoft. According to The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Mulally told an acquaintance in 2012 that Microsoft and Google were the only companies he would be interested in leading once he left Ford.

Besides his top-flight managerial experience -- Mr. Mulally is highly regarded for the turnaround he executed at Ford -- he can contribute industry expertise to multiple projects at Google. For one, Google is pioneering a driverless automobile, which raises all sorts of thorny regulatory and legal issues. Google is also dipping into the aerospace industry with its purchase of Titan Aerospace, a maker of solar-powered drones. Prior to joining Ford, Mr. Mulally was the CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, a unit of Boeing. All told, Mr. Mulally is a first-rate addition to Google's board; shareholders ought to be delighted.

Leaked: Apple's next smart device (warning, it may shock you)
Apple recently recruited a secret-development "dream team" to guarantee its newest smart device was kept hidden from the public for as long as possible. But the secret is out, and some early viewers are claiming its everyday impact could trump the iPod, iPhone, and the iPad. In fact, ABI Research predicts 485 million of this type of device will be sold per year. But one small company makes Apple's gadget possible. And its stock price has nearly unlimited room to run for early in-the-know investors. To be one of them, and see Apple's newest smart gizmo, just click here!

Alex Dumortier, CFA has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Google (A shares) and Google (C shares). The Motley Fool owns shares of Google (A shares) and Google (C shares). 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.

4 in 5 Americans Are Ignoring Buffett's Warning

Don't be one of them.

Jun 12, 2015 at 5:01PM

Admitting fear is difficult.

So you can imagine how shocked I was to find out Warren Buffett recently told a select number of investors about the cutting-edge technology that's keeping him awake at night.

This past May, The Motley Fool sent 8 of its best stock analysts to Omaha, Nebraska to attend the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting. CEO Warren Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger fielded questions for nearly 6 hours.
The catch was: Attendees weren't allowed to record any of it. No audio. No video. 

Our team of analysts wrote down every single word Buffett and Munger uttered. Over 16,000 words. But only two words stood out to me as I read the detailed transcript of the event: "Real threat."

That's how Buffett responded when asked about this emerging market that is already expected to be worth more than $2 trillion in the U.S. alone. Google has already put some of its best engineers behind the technology powering this trend. 

The amazing thing is, while Buffett may be nervous, the rest of us can invest in this new industry BEFORE the old money realizes what hit them.

KPMG advises we're "on the cusp of revolutionary change" coming much "sooner than you think."

Even one legendary MIT professor had to recant his position that the technology was "beyond the capability of computer science." (He recently confessed to The Wall Street Journal that he's now a believer and amazed "how quickly this technology caught on.")

Yet according to one J.D. Power and Associates survey, only 1 in 5 Americans are even interested in this technology, much less ready to invest in it. Needless to say, you haven't missed your window of opportunity. 

Think about how many amazing technologies you've watched soar to new heights while you kick yourself thinking, "I knew about that technology before everyone was talking about it, but I just sat on my hands." 

Don't let that happen again. This time, it should be your family telling you, "I can't believe you knew about and invested in that technology so early on."

That's why I hope you take just a few minutes to access the exclusive research our team of analysts has put together on this industry and the one stock positioned to capitalize on this major shift.

Click here to learn about this incredible technology before Buffett stops being scared and starts buying!

David Hanson owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and American Express. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Google, and Coca-Cola.We Fools don't 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.

©1995-2014 The Motley Fool. All rights reserved. | Privacy/Legal Information